In Conversation with FDC's Convent Restoration Management Team
Posted by Laura Bianchi on 29 Jun 2018
This year, the Abbotsford Convent Foundation has proudly partnered with FDC Construction & Fitout to help restore and repair the Convent’s crumbling walkways – and to open up a new piece of the Convent’s history for the very first time. Heading up the project are Livia Ying (Project Manager), Vanessa Borg (Contracts Administrator) and Amy Lampard (Client Services, Business Development and Design Manager) – a powerhouse female team with a passion for heritage projects. We chat with Liv, Vanessa and Amy about the project ahead, FDC’s ongoing partnership with the Abbotsford Convent, and what they enjoy most about their chosen field.
How long have each of you been working with FDC, and in construction and fitout more broadly? What was it that initially attracted you to this field of work? And what are the most interesting parts of the job for each of you?
AL I’ve been at FDC for nearly 5 years and came from an architectural and interiors background. My experience with commercial interior design led me to a keen interest in the delivery of the projects I was designing, so I moved from the Design Fraternity to “get my hands dirty” on the construction side. My role involves driving design management and ensuring quality outcomes are achieved for all our projects. No two days are the same at FDC: I can be in full corporate attire pitching for a multi-million dollar project one day and in a hard hat and steel caps the next.
LY I have spent 8 months with FDC and 12 years in the industry. I love building and structures. I love the challenges of delivering the projects and the rewarding feel seeing the end finished space and the smiles on the clients’ faces made me very proud of what I’m doing.
VB I’ve been working in construction (including fitout work) for the last 8 years, and joined the FDC team in December.
Your team has just wrapped up restoration work on the Convent’s 3,200sqm Sacred Heart precinct earlier this year, and you’ve now taken over project management of the next huge piece at Abbotsford Convent: restoration of the Magdalen Laundries. This is a very significant project. What are you most looking forward to about this one – and what do you see as some of the unique challenges of this job?
AL The Convent is a uniquely special place. The people we work with here are so passionate and invested in the best outcomes for the site that it’s hard not to get tied up with the spirit of the place and its people. Not only are the ACF staff incredible to work with but the restoration works are so important to ensure the history and story behind these unique and stunning buildings are retained for generations to come.
LY Being such a unique project, it challenges us from all sort of aspects such as the existing condition of the structure of the building, roofing and sewerage pipe; working in a heritage environment; dealing with various heritage stakeholders, and the list just goes on.
VB I am very much looking forward to this project, this not only is a heritage listed building but is such a big part of the community. I feel like I am giving something back, helping create a space for people to enjoy in the future for many years to come. This is one project I am definitely going to be proud of and say “I helped to restore that building!” The Heritage aspect is definitely going to be a challenge along with some of the services.
We’re thrilled to be partnering with FDC on the Convent’s ‘Walk With Us’ appeal. FDC proudly supports a number of community organisations and charitable initiatives each year – and right now you’ll be helping the Convent embark on some key restoration work in the main Convent Building; including opening up a piece of the Convent’s history for the very first time. What’s most special to you about this balcony restoration project with the ACF?
AL The Convent building is such a key feature of the site and yet many people who come to visit can’t access one of the most beautiful parts. The restoration will ensure that another piece of the site can be enjoyed for many years to come. Plus, not seeing gaffa tape on the tiles will be a victory for all of us involved!
Tell us about what sorts of work you’ll be overseeing as part of your project management on the Laundries and balcony restoration?
AL As the Client and Design Manager, I will ensure that the more than capable FDC Team are working with the ACF team to ensure quality, compliance and detail are exceeded in the delivery of this project.
LY As the Project Manager, I will be overseeing the whole project from high level to ensure the project are delivered within the budget and on time.
What does it mean to you to be working on such unique projects with the Nationally Heritage Listed Abbotsford Convent?
AL It means the world! This site is a unique balance of profound history, heritage architecture, artists, retail, commercial business and community engagement that I struggle to think of anywhere else that offers this kind of diversity in such a picturesque setting. Plus, working with a team of people who have a genuine passion for their workplace and who are 100% devoted to improving the site while not receiving any local or government funding, who engage the community to raise much needed funds, is humbling – it’s an honour to be partnering with the ACF.
LY I’m so proud of being part of the project team to deliver the project. It’s definitely the one to put on the CV to talk about. Also to be able to deliver a project for the community means all these years of studying are all worth it.
What makes FDC such a great place to work?
AL FDC is a family who support each other wholeheartedly. This project will be delivered by 3 working mums which is testament to a business who supports workplace equality and diversity. People who work at FDC are proud of our business, we work hard, foster genuine relationships with clients and have each other’s back. AND we have a lot of fun doing it!
VB My colleagues are all wonderful, I know it sounds cliché, however in my 20-year working career this is honestly the best place to work. The upper management are so supportive and so involved in our projects it is fantastic. We have offices nationally and the support each office gives each other is fantastic also. Honestly I am waiting for that honeymoon period to be over, after six months I am still waiting!
Find out more about the Abbotsford Convent’s Walk With Us appeal to help repair and restore our crumbling heritage tiling, and restore and open up the dilapidated Convent Balcony. If you’d like to contribute to the appeal, you can donate online today, or call Ali Murphy, Head of Development, on 03 9415 3607.
PS – thanks to the generous support of our partners at FDC Construction and Fitout, every contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $40,000, until 30 June 2018.