On Friday 22nd May 2020, BLP staff and family virtually celebrated 25 years of Billard Leece Partnership, hosted by the Australian comedian, presenter, writer and self-proclaimed design buff Tim Ross (@modernister).
As soon as staff logged in and the array of handmade hats for the ‘design your own hat comp’ and on trend ‘masks’ (inspired by COVID-19) popped up on screen, you could feel the energy bouncing from home to home.
BLP’s founding director Ron Billard opened the night reflecting on old photos from early days of the practice:
25 years ago I had a lot more hair! That’s our dining room table with really large computers, they were big expensive monsters. We had four people around a dining table, before moving to an office space. It was an exciting time, and there are a lot of people still with us from those days.”
David Leece, reflected with his thoughts on significant projects:
(Just to name a few) I am really proud of Orygen and OYH Parkville, Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre, Casba and The University of Sydney Health Precinct project… 25 years went quickly, you show up every day and suddenly you’re at a virtual birthday party.”
Director, Tara Veldman followed with some advice for the whole team:
When you hit a brick wall, take a step back – design is like this and when you get stuck, step back and take a moment to find a way through. Interestingly remote working creates a new headspace and we’re looking at problems in a different way.”
BLP is synonymous with The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, the ‘game changer’ project for the company. Director, Mark Mitchell, reflected on this:
Designing for kids (paediatric design) has shaped our business. You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s monumental in your career to make something that is going to change lives.”
The night continued with announcements of a new company structure and executive team who will be responsible for driving the culture, developing work for the practice and continuing the BLP legacy. Associate Paul Longridge added to this moment by saying:
Everything we do provides a direct or indirect benefit to society. BLP provides opportunities for people, we celebrate our people and look after each other.“
Both Tara and Mark closed the evening festivities giving thanks to an incredible team and its accomplishments. And importantly to what the practice will achieve in the future through social infrastructure locally and globally.
Tim Ross, summed up the night by sharing his thoughts of the 25th celebration:
It has been a great honor to hear so many voices… thank you for sharing your stories and projects, you are a unique company that designs with compassion. This echoes through your deep concern for people and how it effects people’s lives. It is almost an egoless pursuit which is rare in architecture; thank you for making such great buildings that make an impact and embody that ethos. We really need you now more than ever.”
Cheers, BLP to the last 25 years, to the founding directors Ron and David for laying the pavers, to Mark and Tara taking us into the next 25 years, and finally to all the people that work here; without you we would not be the practice we are today.