Gerard ‘Ged’ Brandrick graduated from the University of Dundee with a B.Arch in 1983 after immigrating to Australia in 1987.
Chatting about 25 years of Brandrick Architects with Ged Brandrick
Establishing his own practice in 1989, Ged didn’t expect to be inundated with work as soon as he opened the doors. But Echuca was booming, and with no other architects in town, Ged soon had as many clients as he could handle.
“It was a shock! I had to quickly learn how to run an office,” he says.
Squeezed into a shared office-space, Ged was responsible for winning the work and then drawing it, while his wife Libby took care of administration.
“I employed my soon-to-be wife as the secretary. She told me she could type. Turns out it was two-finger typing,” Ged recounts, amused.
It was from this cramped office that Ged began his first project as Brandrick Architects: redeveloping the local newspaper offices and front-of-house. So where did this journey begin? As it turns out, Ged didn’t always aspire to be an architect.
“Legend has it, and this goes back to when I was in school, I wanted to be a fashion designer,” Gerard recalls.
“But you can’t go to the Christian Brothers and say you want to be in fashion. They suggested I become an engineer, but it wasn’t artistic enough for me, so architecture was the compromise. And I’ve never looked back.”
For Ged and his team at Brandrick Architects, it’s not just about being on trend, but creating something that’s ahead of the curve. Ged believes it takes a great deal of experience to design something that will stand the test of time.
“I think experience is important in all aspects of life, not just architecture,” says Ged. “You do learn from your mistakes as well as from changing trends, so longevity is important.”
Ged also believes that trust is another essential key to success.
“Trust is essential, so we are really honest with our clients. We don’t beat around the bush; if we don’t believe it’s going to work then we tell them it’s not going to work”.
“In terms of family values, our staff are an extension of our family. We celebrate their birthdays; if a kid is sick then mum or dad just has to take a day off and look after them. We think that’s important.”
“Giving back and being part of the local community is to me what being a regional business is all about,” says Ged.
Ged understands that regional clients often have tight budgets, and Brandrick is expert at working within these.
“We’re aware of budget constraints. We’re living in an area that experiences the extremes of nature, the floods and the drought, and we know what affect that has on people and businesses,” he empathises.
“Regional clients may not have as much money as city-based people, but it’s hard earned, so you have to look after it for them.”
Brandrick Architects are able to achieve great results on commercial and residential projects because they see themselves as part of a team alongside the client and the builder.
“It’s very important to us to value the knowledge of builders. A builder may come up with a really good solution to a problem, and be a lot more practical than we’ve been,” explains Ged.
“I think if you start learning from builders, then you become more approachable.”
This approachability is especially important for Brandrick Architects when working with private clients; mums and dads who are building or extending their home.
Ged believes that from the beginning, Brandrick has always aimed to create a welcoming experience for clients.
Although they are winners of multiple awards from organisations like the Building Designers Association of Victoria, the greatest reward for the Brandrick team is seeing people enjoying their buildings.
“I’m not the kind of guy who feels he needs awards or pats on the back,” says Ged.
Ask Ged is asked to name the project he’s most proud of in his long and successful career and you may be suprized. “It’s a war memorial monument over in Moama, on a public plot, where they go for the dawn service and lay wreaths,” he explains.
“I think it looks fantastic, it’s meaningful, and it makes me really happy even now, almost twenty years later. I think it’s a really nice piece of work, but nobody else probably even notices it.”
So in the ever-evolving world of architecture, what’s next for Brandrick?
“It excites me that one of my kids is keen on architecture as a profession. He’s only in year 11, but it will be interesting to see if he follows in my footsteps,” says Gerard.
When asked if he would recommend architecture as a career for his son, Gerard doesn’t hesitate.
“You’ve got to love it. If you want to do it to make money, forget about it, be a pharmacist,” he cautions.
“But if you love creating, if you love building, if you love seeing something rise out of the ground that you can say you had an involvement in – then do it. That’s the thrill.”