Ben Green, Chi Melhem and Mladen Prnjatovic
Ben Green, Chi Melhem and Mladen Prnjatovic

Following the amicable departure of four of its senior members, renowned architecture firm Tzannes has taken the opportunity to reshuffle and create opportunities for lower level employees. 

Three long-time directors left the firm this month to form their own studio, EM BE CE, prior to which owner and director Jonathan Evans also left to start his own studio. 

Longtime collaborators, Mladen Prnjatovic, Ben Green and Chi Melhem have chosen a warehouse space in Sydney’s Chippendale as the new home base for EM BE CE and its seven-person team. 

“We’re proud of what we have collectively achieved at Tzannes and were at that point in our careers where we wanted to take a new approach,” the trio said in a statement. 

“Together we bring a wide range of strengths to the practice, from intuitive and strategic thinking, technical expertise, a cut-through communication style, deep knowledge and a global perspective.”

Tzannes continues with founding director Alex Tzannes at the helm, and the 70 year-old says with a passion still for innovation, he sees no reason to retire.

“It’s probably my failing but I just don’t know what else I would do. I enjoy the work, we’ve never had better clients and better work, and I feel very privileged,” he said. 

Tzannes told The Fifth Estate after recent setbacks including COVID-19, some employees expressed concern over the potential for career progression within the company. 

“We were crowded at the top because our work, had not slowed down, but it wasn’t growing. We were hit by a ransomware attack, we’re in the tertiary education sector, and we also had COVID,” Tzannes said.  

“So the change of ownership and the loss of four directors has really created great opportunities for careers and overcome the problem of good people working in the practice but saying they couldn’t see a way to the top.” 

Amy Dowse has moved from associate director to director at Tzannes, while George Korban and Bruce Chadlowe will take on newly created roles as design leads. 

Tzannes said the purpose of the design lead roles was to allow its staff the capacity to work remotely and retain flexibility, while also filling a senior role in terms of mentorship and experience. 

Several other staff members have also taken on new associate, senior associate and senior architect roles. 

“We’re also taking the opportunity to rethink the practice and its motivations and how it differentiates itself from other practices,” Tzannes said. 

He said the firm was receiving an increased number of enquiries recently as activity picked up in the market. 

Tzannes added he doesn’t feel threatened by the presence of even more architecture firms competing for business — even those run by ex-employees. 

“I think we’ve always been open to competition, we compete with the world. As I said to them ‘I’m not so worried about you forming new practices, I think we’ll both take market share from somebody else!”

More job movements

Sarah Reid has been appointed senior sustainability development and delivery advisor at Suburban Rail Loop Authority in Melbourne after nearly six years with the City of Melbourne where she was Zero Carbon Buildings lead and prior roles with Fishermans Bend Taskforce and Norman Disney & Young.

And yes City of Melbourne is looking for someone to fill Reid’s old gig.

Australian architecture and design firm, Architectus, has appointed Richard Burley to national strategic leader of PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) and Major Projects.

The newly created role will see Burley leverage his 25-years of international industry experience in guiding industry and government collaboration.

 “I began my career as an architect and eventually moved client side with an opportunity to work across a range of significant projects globally, so it’s fantastic to be able to come full circle and re-engage with my design roots at Architectus,” Burley said. 

Luke Achterstraat has been named The Property Council’s NSW executive director, taking on the multitude issues of guiding the pandemic recovery, housing the growing population, reinvigorating Sydney’s CBDs and improving the outdated planning system. 

Achterstraat is a former adviser to two government ministers and a mining industry body and spent close to three years as head of talent placement company, Commtract. 

“This is a critical time in the state’s economic recovery and I am delighted that someone with Luke’s leadership, government and corporate skills will be leading the Property Council in NSW,” Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said. 

Meanwhile, Jim Betts will begin a new role as secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW), leaving his former appointment as Secretary and leader of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment vacant. 

Betts spent his time at DPIE facing the hurdles of the pandemic and implementing major reform across planning, environment, housing, crown land and local government.

WSP WSP Advisory & Digital has named Sara Stace in NSW and Mark Redmond in Victoria as directors, cities to join the Strategy, Community and Place team. 

The pair will leverage their experience in strategic planning, research, policy, and project facilitation to improve the overall health and liveability of Australia’s cities 

Also Clare Gallagher has stepped up to national sustainability manager at built after five years with the Australia and New Zealand based construction firm. 

If you’re wondering where Damien Moyse has landed after leaving a 12 year gig at Renew, you’ll find him at Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, as senior policy officer, gas reform, where he started several months ago.

Our pick of the jobs 

Independent, not-for-profit research centre, the Planetary Accounting Network (PAN) is looking for two new Trustees to join their board. 

The fast growing organisation aims to inform individual, government and business decision making on environmental sustainability, based on what is scientifically necessary to restore and maintain our planet. 

The position ideally calls for someone with a financial or fundraising background or simply someone to add value to the team and their science-based mission. 

And finally, just because we love the title, Uniting is looking for a part-time “HIPPY community connector”.

HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngster) is a free home-based early childhood learning program for parents and caregivers. 

As the HIPPY community connector, you’ll support parents as they go through the process of formally becoming their child’s first teacher. 

Peace out man. 

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