Ingrid Bakker is a Principal of Hassell in Melbourne, and the second in our profile series of women who are shaping architecture in Australia, initiated by the Gender Equity Committee of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Melbourne-based Ingrid Bakker is a Principal of Hassell and part of the regional management team, overseeing the eastern region of Australia. She is a registered architect with 20 years of experience in both the architectural and interior design industries.
What do you enjoy most in the practice of architecture?
I really enjoy the variety in architecture – things come in from left‐field when you least expect it. Almost every day an exciting new project opportunity comes in the door, and they’re often large-scale, city‐changing, important projects that I’m really enthusiastic about.
Can you tell us about a key project that you have been involved in?
I’ve been really lucky to be involved in some amazing projects, particularly in Melbourne. My first project was the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, which was an unbeatable learning environment. I was involved in the interior design of the Westin Hotel in Melbourne. Working as an architect on an intensive hospitality interior project was also a great learning experience.
Recently, I’ve been involved in the new headquarters for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street, Melbourne. It was a fantastic project to lead. It took a lot to win the project and then deliver it in a very short timeframe. We’re all very proud of the end result and the tenants are rapt with the environment that we’ve created for them. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know we’ve created a building that people love being in.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I don’t think there is a typical day at work for me. As regional manager at Hassell, I travel interstate almost weekly, so my day varies depending on whether I’m in our Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide or Melbourne studios. My time is split between meeting with clients and leading teams to win new work, and working one‐on‐one with staff across the region.
My day often doesn’t start at 9am and finish at 5pm. I might be up at 5am to catch a flight and not home until fairly late in the evening. I balance this by not working at the weekend so I can spend quality time with my family.
What are you looking forward to in your career?
I’m always looking forward to the next project. As Hassell increases its international presence I’m really excited about the opportunities and the potential of working on projects in other locations. I’m very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented people – both within Hassell and the organisations we partner with on projects.
What do you see as your core strength in the practice of architecture?
I’m a people person, so my core strength is my ability to bring the right people together in a collaborative team. With the right team you can understand and respond to a client’s brief and ultimately create the best result.
I genuinely enjoy collaborating with others, and I also love winning, so I’m able to get people inspired about a project and what we’re trying to do.
In this competitive industry it’s necessary to have that desire to win, but I also recognise the need for resilience given that you can’t win everything. You have to roll with the punches a little bit and dust yourself off and keep going when things don’t quite go your way. I’m very optimistic and generally very positive, so I’m always looking for the best in people and situations.
Ingrid Bakker was interviewed by Michael Smith from Atelier Red+Black. This profile is co-published with the Australian Institute of Architects.