Alumni profile

Robert Cahill, Principal, Woods Bagot

The 1970s began a spate of technology inventions and achievements that essentially, began the age of the practical computer - the micro processor, the word processor, and the floppy disk to name a few.

It was also within this era, that Robert Cahill emerged from the study halls at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning within the University of Sydney, graduating as an Architect (B. Arch. (Hons)), and embarked on a career, that is today spanning over 35 years professional experience. We can all agree that technological inventions from the 1970s to today, have remarkably changed the way we live. Technology has also played a pivotal role in design.

As a Principal at global studio Woods Bagot, the greatest impact of any that Robert has witnessed is the maturity and sheer innovation of technological units that have not only played a role in design, but the delivery and realisation of complex projects.

A major projects architect, Robert’s skills over recent years have been applied to a broad range of complex projects; the challenge has been managing the process of development and control of inputs from multiple stakeholders to facilitate effective and efficient project completion.

“Today, a big part of the shift is how we are doing more work up front; and this not only has enabled delivery, but been demanded by technology. Using technology, and in particular the implementation of 3D design technology, we have the need to resolve key issues of structure and engineering services early to allow us to model the building accurately from the early days of project development,” said Robert Cahill, Principal, Woods Bagot.

Designed by Woods Bagot, the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is the most significant development in health and medical research for South Australia in the 21st Century. The building form is further expressed by its unique triangulated diagrid façade inspired by the skin of a pine cone.

“Key to realising the diagrid facade, was the use of parametric modelling tools to integrate environmental, programmatic, and formal requirements to generate a shading system that changes accordingly. This allows it to deal with sunlight, heat load, glare, and wind deflection, while maintaining enhanced views and daylight to create a healthy internal environment – again, an exemplar of how we are doing more work up front, enabled by technology.

As an example of how we work has changed, this project has been a collaboration of efforts with our Adelaide Studio supported by Melbourne and New York Studios, where New York played a significant role in the development and 3D representation of the diagrid facade,” said Robert.

Woods Bagot in now connecting teams and client work through an advanced intranet, the Design Intelligence (DI) Portal that offers a minute by minute representation of project work in real time across the world.

“Developed in-house, the DI Portal is incredibly unique, and is the true realisation of a global studio. It stands as a prominent example of Woods Bagot’s global approach to projects, which enables studios from across the world to work on one project, from one central location.

“It really is extraordinary to reflect on the changes within the industry over the last thirty years or so. One element that will always remain the same, or should remain the same is the commitment to quality design – no matter what platform the project is delivered by.”

Robert Cahill is Principal at global studio Woods Bagot. Based in Sydney, he has been with the firm for over twenty years.

Parametric Modelling Tool (used for South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute project)

Parametric Modelling Tool (used for South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute project)

Woods Baggot
Woods Baggot

Woods Baggot's Design Intelligence Portal

Back to the newsletter