Building With The Best

29th July 2019

Having an in-house development and architecture practice, which works alongside its building teams, makes for a seamless operation at Mirvac.

If anyone should know about the Mirvac difference, it’s Glenn House. He visited his first Mirvac site when he was seven years old. “My father was a site manager at a residential project called Castle Vale at Willoughby on Sydney’s North Shore,” Glenn says. “I got exposed to construction and the Mirvac way of doing things from a very early age.”

In year 10, Glenn did work experience with Mirvac. Then, after finishing his HSC, he joined the company as an apprentice carpenter, and began working his way up. Today, 34 years later, Glenn’s role is Construction Manager, Apartments. It’s a journey that has allowed him to see Mirvac’s operations from a variety of angles, but one thing has been consistent.

“From the beginning it was quite clear what we were working for and delivering,” Glenn says. “We wanted to be the industry leader in Australia. Quality has always been of the utmost importance, and we’ve always done that little bit extra to position us as the best.”

An integrated approach

A key factor in Mirvac gaining a reputation for quality has been the fact that the company designs, builds and is responsible for the delivery of its own properties. Mirvac has its own in-house architecture practice, Mirvac Design, which works alongside the in-house development and construction teams.  

Architects’ butter paper and hard hats sit alongside each other in the Mirvac office. “Teams maintain full and open communication throughout the process,” Glenn says. “This makes us very flexible, which you have to be. Things can change on a project in a split second.”  

This in-house complete package of development, design and construction makes it easier for Mirvac to pay attention to detail and ensure it ends up producing a top-quality product. If you’re all on the same team, you can get things done.  

“Mirvac Design cares about the quality of construction and construction challenges and cares about the quality of design – this is rare in the construction industry,” Glenn says. 

“One thing that resonates in my mind as I look back over my Mirvac career is the customer expectation and the care and attention to detail. We consider smart and efficient planning and design, incorporating durability and longevity of materials and finishes.  

“We want our buildings to look as good long into the future as they do when they are built.” 

“There’s also a focus on ensuring every finish in every space is perfect. We all care as much about the delivery and detail associated with common areas as we do about apartment design and kitchens finishes.” 

“And we collectively pay a lot of attention to façade functionality and design factors such as cross viewing: to ensure resident privacy and amenity is maintained. We’re not just creating properties. We’re creating great places to live.” 

Strong foundations

The importance of getting things right, no matter what it takes, was instilled in Glenn through his dealings with Bob Hamilton, who co-founded Mirvac with Henry Pollack in 1972.

Glenn recalls a perfect example of Hamilton’s insights and determination to deliver the best and do the right thing. During the development of the Latitude project at Sydney’s Lavender Bay – an exciting redevelopment of an existing commercial building being given a second life as high-end apartments – initial structural and apartment planning was compromised by the need to retain an existing structural column. 

“Bob knew if that column were to remain it would impede the view in the affected apartments,” Glenn says. “Bob said it had to go. And when Bob said it had to go, it had to go. So we collaborated with all our engineers and stakeholders and ran the various checks required to negotiate its removal. 

“Go back into those apartments today and the views are phenomenal. That’s thanks to Bob, who made the call early that we should take the time and spend the money and remove that column.

“That’s why our reputation is what it is.”

Team Effort

Insignificant for some, however strong in principle…..“It was important to Bob how an apartment would feel and flow, and even the way the door to the bathroom would swing,” Glenn says. 

“When a company is founded on that level of design detail, it becomes ingrained in the culture. The importance of design and attention to every aspect is never underestimated at Mirvac.

“The benefit of our integrated model, where we control the build from start to finish, is that we can grab people from the different parts of our business and sit down and look very early on at a concept phase at what we can do at a particular site. 

“Then, at later stages in the project, we can collaborate, make important calls by involving the right people, and adapt as needed. 

“We’re in complete control of our destiny to deliver the project.”