Building a career in Architecture

Catherine Lindsay

Q&A with Catherine Lindsay

UWA Bachelor of Environmental Science (2011) and Master of Architecture (2013) graduate

While studying, I participated in a student exchange program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, an AA Workshop in the Atacama Desert and RCR Arquitectes Architecture/Landscape Summer Workshop in Olot, Spain.

Since graduating, I’ve gained professional practice experience both abroad and in Australia. In 2014, I worked in Chile as a graduate architect as part of the team designing the new Metro Line 6 in Santiago. I gained my Architectural Registration in 2018. I’m currently employed at Hassell, where I have been for the past 5 years. I am working as a project lead on smaller projects and as a contributing team member on larger projects in the education and public sectors, from schematic/design development, all the way through to onsite contract administration.

What aspects of working in architecture do you most enjoy?

My passion is creating great spaces for people by making them feel more engaged to their surroundings. I’m lucky enough to work on education/public sector projects, which have a large impact on the community. Although I have a core interest in design and detailing, I tend to have a more holistic approach to design – focusing on the problem at hand and bigger picture project aspirations for the people who inhabit these spaces. I tend to look for opportunities and solve problems.

What do you love about your job?

Working on large-scale, complex projects has taken me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to be braver every day; seeing things you imagined in your mind come to life, working on the design and delivery of the EZONE UWA Student Hub project and being one of very few women on site. Throughout this experience, I’ve learnt not to be afraid to find my voice and speak up. I’m positive the construction industry will continue to attract a more diverse pool of talent, which is more reflective of the society in which we live.

Reflecting on your time at UWA, what experiences were most important for your development?

Working in a studio collaboratively made it an inspirational place to be and formed a large part of my development as an architect; sharing ideas and thoughts with my peers and lecturers who were always willing to give up their time to engage in conversation. This is applicable to real-world experience, as you will find the industry is all about collaboration and liaising with others.

I think the UWA experience allowed me to come out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to experiment. The lecturers always pushed us to learn new things and made the curriculum very interesting. My UWA degree helped me develop the way I think.

Although many technical skills can be learnt on the job, university teaches you how to think creatively, be critical and problem solve. This has become an invaluable tool in the industry when dealing with others, such as builders, consultants and clients. Even without experience, which will come with time, your input on how you perceive the issue adds value to every project. A lot of problems can be solved by knowing how to think laterally and not being afraid to ask questions.

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