Paul Callum is a Partner and Principal Structural Engineer at Bligh Tanner - an innovative structural, civil, environmental and water engineering consultancy based in Brisbane. Paul - a valued panellist at a recent CityShapers event - shares his insights into how developers can create more cost effective and sustainable built solutions.
Bringing the design team in late in the process is a big one. The opportunity to influence the design and maximise value to a project is greatly reduced as the process proceeds, the design elements get locked in and flexibility to investigate better designs reduces. Ensure that an experienced expert in each design discipline is consulted early to ensure that the design development process does not take the design irretrievably off the rails.
Allowing engineering disciplines to be represented at the table by non-specialists in that field. It can be a significant issue to either not have a specialist team member at the table especially during the schematic design stage but equally disruptive to have a multi-discipline team represented by one individual whose constant response is “I’ll get back to you”. The developer needs to insist that an expert from each discipline is ‘at the table’ especially during the development stage. This might relax during documentation but it is critical during the preliminary stages.
Having a client representative who has a poor understanding of the design process. This can be catastrophic as a knowledgeable client rep’ is critical to getting the most from a design team by clearly articulating the client’s needs.
Letting the design team lead the process by their experience instead of the client’s goals. Far better to challenge the team by asking for what the client really desires rather than by asking the team for what they can deliver.
What are some structural solutions to creating more environmentally sustainable developments?
The obvious is to produce a good design that achieves a good functional building that will be useable and valuable for as long as possible – demolishing and replacing a building due to lack of flexibility, aesthetic, durability or just high operation costs is an incredible waste of resources.
Other solutions include:
Bligh Tanner’s water harvesting systems such as Rain Bank at Southbank and the FiSH and Potaroo at Fitzgibbon Chase, have also been recognised nationally and internationally as setting new benchmarks for creating water sensitive cities.
You have led structural engineering on major projects up to $500M over your 30 year career- what has been the most memorable project you've worked on to date and why?
There have been many wonderful projects that I have been involved in, from the $500M Hong Kong Central Station Development and $200M Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (as a Principal with Arup), to complex art installations for the Gallery of Modern Art.
One of the most satisfying projects was the Tree of Knowledge Memorial in Barcaldine. Its remote location necessitated that prefabrication was extensively employed and that the building’s form and detailing was sensitive to the aesthetic intent of the architect (m3architecture). The detailing of the structure to hang over 3,600 pieces of 1.8 m long timbers securely from the roof structure was well received. Simple detailing such as the use of square hangers through square holes punched in the tube battens to prevent rotation, allowed rooftop access and adjustability, as well as security with the use of locknuts.
My current challenge is leading the structural team on the $110 M Carrara Sports Precinct.
What is the latest game changer in structural design?