Project Management, Town Planning and Much More

Greg Rowe and Associates

“We’re probably the only mainstream practice in Western Australia that combines all of the disciplines we have in one practice, principally combining our town planning, urban design and project management so openly and so clearly,” says Greg Rowe, founding Principal and Managing Director of GRA. “There might be town planning firms, and there certainly are project management firms who offer these services, but they sub-contract those disciplines. To my understanding, we are the largest firm in WA that provides both those services in one organisation. There are many benefits in providing these disciplines in one organisation.”

Along with a highly qualified and experienced team utilising the latest technologies, Mr Rowe and his staff of 38 are able to meet the needs of all clients through their time-tested skills in town planning, master planning, urban design, project management, and other disciplines. Prior to forming Greg Rowe and Associates in 1991, Mr Rowe – who holds a Bachelor of Architecture, a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Studies / Planning and is a member of the Australian Institute of Project Management – worked in private consultancy, and held a variety of senior positions in various local government planning agencies, including the City of Bayswater, City of Melville, and the City of Perth.

Focused on Achievement

At Greg Rowe and Associates, the company’s many years of experience enables it to serve clients in diverse sectors including retail, education, tourism, commercial, and residential developments. With the skills necessary to see any project from inception through to completion, staff work on everything from small subdivision applications all the way through to town sites comprising a mix of uses and thousands of lots.

“Because our business has town planning, urban design and project management, we tend to get involved right from the start with obtaining all of the development approvals, and it becomes almost a natural progression – we seamlessly hand the job over from our town planners to our project managers,” says George Hajigabriel, the business’ General Manager. “Depending on the nature of the project, it will go through strategy, urban design, subdivision or development approval. Our project managers will get involved, working hand in hand with the planners, and then they’ll take it to the next level in terms of appointment of a broader consultant team, including engineers, surveyors and the like. We’ll then go through the whole project management service.”

Working alongside Greg Rowe since the company’s inception, Mr Hajigabriel is a key team member at GRA. His extensive background and qualifications in Urban and Regional Studies / Planning and Property Studies sees Mr Hajigabriel overseeing many large land subdivision and building projects for GRA clients, and coordinating multi-disciplinary teams.

Although all of GRA’s project managers are experts and can take on any project that comes their way, they are also encouraged to focus on project areas they are particularly keen on. At GRA, project managers readily acknowledge that while successful, on-time and on-budget project delivery is essential, listening to clients, responding to their needs, and nurturing long-term relationships makes a tremendous difference when it comes to customer satisfaction and successful outcomes.

“We let them go where their interests lie,” says Mr Rowe. “The processes are very similar, but the details are very different. It is an important place for a client to be comfortable with his project manager. Although we have a fairly large organisation, it can come down to a one-on-one relationship, and often a client will expect their project manager to second-guess and make decisions he might make.” In order to keep informed and current, all GRA project managers meet on a regular basis to workshop ideas and issues, share expertise, and discuss work in progress.

A Wealth of Services

Greg Rowe and Associates regularly takes on major land subdivision estate work, town planning design, urban design of built form, study work for local and state governments, and public participation work, comprising public workshops and forums to engage the community and get input on projects. The company also plays an active role in the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), often giving expert evidence on town planning or project management projects.

As one of the largest planning practices within Western Australia, Greg Rowe and Associates is able to provide all clients with a broad range of services no matter the sector. Instrumental in the development and construction of a number of schools, GRA’s projects have included buildings created to serve a variety of purposes, including performing arts, gymnasiums, science, libraries, administration, general classrooms, early childhood centres, and more. The company has also been involved in the successful delivery of innovative built form projects for the Anglican Schools Commission; one example is the project management work carried out for the John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School. Consisting of two campuses located in Perth’s north metropolitan area, John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School provides student learning for pre-primary, primary and high school students, and GRA has been integral in making the School’s teaching vision a reality for over a decade.

All construction projects present different design challenges and at GRA, it is essential for the company as project manager to have a thorough understanding of all project requirements to overcome any challenges, and to share the client’s vision of the redevelopment project. To help see the vision through to successful completion, GRA will establish the right project team, and the company’s expansive knowledge of specialist consultancy services allows it to custom-tailor the most functional and effective design team to deliver each project. Thorough design documentation, along with exacting management of both approval processes and builder procurement, enables GRA to add value to each project, as cost and time values are closely maintained during both the tender and construction processes.

Another example of the company’s project management expertise is the Rockingham City Shopping Centre Refurbishment. Appointed to work in conjunction with Nix Management – an eastern states-based project management company – Greg Rowe and Associates was retained to project manage a portion of the refurbishment of the 30-year-old shopping centre, which will ultimately increase the size by about 40 per cent. Prior to Nix Management and GRA coming on board, another company project managed the shopping centre for 15 months – the prime objective of the new team was to ensure the project met time, quality, and budget Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

As the largest shopping centre refurbishment programme of its kind in Western Australia, Rockingham City Shopping Centre also required close coordination with store keepers and their clientele, as the centre was to remain open during the $180 million refurbishment. Required to audit all costs on an ongoing basis to manage variations to budget, GRA was instrumental in introducing a number of processes to ensure consultants performed to optimum levels, along with delivery of assessments for the base build, meeting new tenancy construction requirements, and working closely with the builder, which helped to keep downtime to a minimum and ensure greater continuity of subcontractor trades.

In the areas of project management, town planning, master planning, and urban design, Greg Rowe and Associates remains unsurpassed for its dedication, commitment to excellence, and depth of knowledge. With an approach that appreciates the need to fully understand all aspects of a project to minimise delays and optimise profitability, GRA strives to achieve significant, positive results for all its clients. Often approached by customers who have been unsuccessful with previous applications, GRA’s in-depth knowledge of local planning requirements, State Legislation, past precedents, and relevant Councillors and Parliamentary protocol helps to create strategies for securing key client objectives, including maximum yield, challenging timelines, or alternative zoning approvals.

In town planning, once a client has endorsed a strategy, the team at GRA will undertake all associated work to ensure an effective design outcome for the development. From conducting a thorough site assessment to working with a wide range of expert consultants, GRA will coordinate the project team and assess environmental, traffic, engineering, community and legal options for the site. This approach, which coordinates the entire process, provides clients with a strong sense of direction and progress, and helps determine the best design outcomes for the client before then meeting with relevant statutory and regulatory bodies with a view to securing their full endorsement.

The Future

Working on 12 to 15 projects at a time on average, the company takes on jobs that can run for years, such as land subdivision projects and built form work. As part of the government’s Building the Education Revolution program, the company has carried out a great deal of work for schools and institutions, written reports and sat on a committee helping allocate funds. With office representation in Port Hedland in the Pilbara, GRA has worked on a number of opportunities with businesses that serve the region’s mining sector.

“We’re keen to do more in the mining sector,” says Mr Rowe. “We have a number of small projects we’ve been managing in that area, but we would like to be more involved with the big mining companies and do some of their project management delivery, either of their infrastructure for mining, or their accommodation for mining.”

Clients at Greg Rowe and Associates benefit from having a full range of services all at their fingertips. “We will work anywhere in Australia, and have worked overseas. If the right job comes along, we’ll go there,” says Mr Rowe.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 18, 2021, 9:15 PM AEDT