This year marks 15 years since Conrad Gargett’s Townsville studio was established by Principal, Greg Sexton. Over this time, Greg and his team have gone from strength to strength, delivering quality architecture across a range of sectors throughout North Queensland.
In recognition of this significant milestone, the studio held an event at Anelay, a venue overlooking The Strand across the bay to Maggie Island, bringing together former and current clients and collaborators to celebrate Conrad Gargett’s valuable contribution to the region’s built environment.
Here, Greg reflects on the past 15 years and looks ahead to the future, as Townsville continues to grow and evolve…
You’ve been with Conrad Gargett for 27 years and established the Townsville studio 15 years ago – how does it feel to have reached this significant milestone?
To be honest 15 years has snuck up on me, but now that we are here – taking a moment to reflect on the myriad of projects we have delivered in this time, I feel extremely humbled and proud of what we have achieved – it is a very rewarding experience. We are a small local studio offering a wealth of hands-on experience leading diverse, complex projects across multiple sectors.
Having grown up in North Queensland and with most of my family still here (I am one of eight siblings), it has been great to return home with my family and establish the Townsville Studio.
What have been some of the most significant/rewarding projects the studio has worked on over the past 15 years?
There are so many significant projects but to mention just a few…
The Proserpine Administration and Local Disaster Coordination Centre project was recently awarded the Walter and Oliver Tunbridge North Queensland Building of the Year – so this project is definitely up there. It also received the State Award for Commercial Architecture.
Creating the masterplan and ultimately the delivery of the campus for North Shore State School was another rewarding experience. It was a model school, offering superior community engagement, a high level of inclusiveness and alternative modes of learning. This project was a great outcome, demonstrating the critical role built forms can play in enabling flexible learning environments in North Queensland.
I am extremely proud of our team’s most recently completed project, TAP Indoor Sports Complex at the Townsville Sports Reserve, revisiting the masterplan for the site, testing staging and future expansion strategies, we developed an under-utilised section of the site to deliver an exciting addition to the precinct for local community use.
And, of course, there have been several projects for the ADF at Lavarack Barracks and RAAF Base Townsville – it is such a humbling experience to be able to provide support facilities and work places for people in our Defence force.
Image: Proserpine Administration and Local Disaster Coordination Centre.
As a proud North Queensland local, how do you feel your connection to the region and its people has influenced Conrad Gargett’s contribution to architecture and the community?
I am extremely proud to be a North Queenslander and am driven by making this region better and stronger for our community every day. I live and work here, so creating attractive places and quality built environments for our region and community is very rewarding.
My firm belief in the value of community and relationships is embedded in my design and project leadership, and is a major focus within the studio. As a team, we recognise that successful design is built on a deep understanding of people and purpose, and invest in creating authentic partnerships.
I have also been involved with local sporting, community groups and professional bodies – so to be able to support the local community in that way is very rewarding.
How has the architecture landscape evolved in North Queensland and where do you see things heading?
The Stadium is a great contribution to Townsville’s CBD – now we need to maintain the momentum and further activate the city with a range of offerings for our community and visitors including art, culture, entertainment, tourism and research. We need to continue to create a better built environment and places that incentivises and attracts people to want to live, work and visit here.
I am optimistic for what the next 10 years may offer our region. Townsville has a massive opportunity to grow and mature as a city and hopefully capitalise on what other North Queenslanders see is obvious – a great liveable city with 300 amazing days of sunshine.
As the Townsville studio continues to grow, what would you say to an architect that may be considering making the move up North? What makes living and working in North QLD special?
Its lifestyle is second to none – Townsville and the broader region has so much to offer including stunning natural assets, great climate and friendly people.
It is also a thriving city – the largest in regional Queensland – with access to a variety of world class education facilities, leading edge health care, affordable housing, unique retailing, spectacular events and entertainment, dining precincts and a wide range of outdoor recreation offerings.
It is exciting to be in a position to provide a meaningful contribution to shaping a coming of age city as it grows, and our local studio has been influencing this for over 15 years now.
Working at Conrad Gargett Townsville means being part of a small team, with a great studio environment and plenty of opportunities to interact with and learn from one another. It provides an amazing opportunity to quickly gain wide ranging experience and skills through working on various projects across multiple sectors, spanning the whole of North Queensland.
What’s next for the Townsville studio?
Our studio is currently working on a very exciting local project – it is early days and progressing rapidly. I am optimistic for what this project will bring to the city – it will offer something for our local community and entice visitors to our region. I just can’t say too much about it at the moment…
We are also currently leading the design and architecture for the ASMTI Greenvale Training Area with a great team around us. I am very hopeful that this relationship between Australia and Singapore leads to international flights to Singapore being a reality, and opens up Townsville to play on the global stage for commerce and tourism.
Another significant project I am extremely passionate about is the restoration and redevelopment of the heritage North Rail Yards site. I have been working on the site with Council on and off since 2015 – I would love to see this site realise its potential, opened up and reactivated by our community.
Image: Townsville North Rail Yards Redevelopment (Artist Impression)