"If I'm tired I just think of the doctors and nurses who work very long hours and how the spaces we design and deliver will improve their lives."

Melanie Walsh

Technical Director - Building Services

Joining Beca as a graduate in late 1996, Mel’s early career including projects in airports, commercial and infrastructure resulting in a secondment in Macau, another in Mangawhai and a Beca career break to work on a private yacht. Since returning in 2005 Mel has predominantly worked in the Health sector, most closely with Counties Manukau and Northland DHBs with whom she has grown strong relationships and continues to deliver health facilities that benefit all.

1. What attracted you to Beca? 

Beca’s reputation, size and diversity in people projects and fields. I knew that if I could ”get in”, then it would be a career for life (and it has!)

2. On your first day at Beca, what stood out to you? 

I was asked to review some drawing mark-ups and spent all day correcting the spelling of ‘grille’ (the thing on the ceiling that air comes out of ) to ‘grill’ (the cooking process) on some air-conditioning drawings. Ooops! I very quickly learnt it is okay to ask questions when not sure…

3. What sort of projects have you been involved in? 

Wow where to I start? At first I was so excited to be working on the fitout of the “airside” (duty free) retail shops past customs at Auckland International Airport, although I was very jealous seeing all those people going on holiday. Soon afterwards I joined the design team for the Macau Tower and Entertainment Centre which is Macau’s version of our Auckland Sky Tower and SkyCity. Once we finished design I joined the construction monitoring team to live and work in Macau for almost two and a half years while this landmark project was built. When I came back to New Zealand I started working on healthcare projects which I love. It’s a great blend of getting involved in the clinical side talking with doctors and nurses about what they do and what they need, and the engineering that goes on behind the hospital walls, above ceilings and in plantrooms. This is a lovely mix of my Mum’s nursing background and my Dad’s mechanical engineering business and they’re both genuinely interested in what I do.

4. What has been your favourite accomplishment at Beca? 

All of the projects that I’ve been involved in the design and construction of are memorable, but my current ‘favourite’ would be the Harley Gray Building at Middlemore which has all sorts of technical clinical spaces including 12 operating theatres. The design and build of this project spanned four years of my career and opened almost eight years ago. The client team out there are still very happy with the performance of this building. Also the project team still regularly keep in touch socially, there were some lifelong connections and friends made with that project.  

5. What gets you out of bed every morning? 

If I’m tired I just think of the doctors and nurses who work very long hours and how the spaces we design and deliver will improve their lives.

6. How does the work you do ‘make everyday better’ for our clients and communities? 

Helping deliver new and better healthcare facilities for healthcare staff and the community. Most of the time the facilities that are being replaced by these projects are too small, old, cramped and often no longer comply with current industry and medical standards and guidelines. Modern spaces not only make it easier for clinical staff to deliver healthcare, but it is proven that the look, feel and quality of the environment improves how people heal so you can get out of hospital faster! The smiles from all when the new facilities are opened is a fantastic reward.

7. What does the next 12 months hold for you? 

 We anticipate the next 12 months will be very busy as there are a lot of old hospitals looking to rebuild, a lot of reforms in the health industry which affects our DHB clients, plus ongoing work from the Covid19 pandemic. This pandemic has brought to the front of everyone’s mind how to plan for these in future such as being able to quickly reconfigure departments including air conditioning systems to be to deal with surges in cases.  

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