Ben Tolé
Associate

“You have to be flexible enough to rethink your ideas. You learn to tease out new ideas so you end up with a better product than you started with.”

“When I started at university I couldn’t choose between arts and science so I enrolled in both. Then I realised that architecture was the perfect blend of arts and sciences.

As an architect, I get to be creative: I do design work, a bit of writing, I get to solve problems and look at things of a highly technical nature. What makes me happy at ARM is trying my hand at a lot of different facets of the profession. It always keeps things interesting.

The best part of my job is when a project I’ve worked on is completed and I get to stand in it and compare it to ideas in my head and drawings of it on paper and 3D models. Seeing a project as an actual-size built form is the most satisfying part.

I worked in New York City for two years in an office in the Empire State Building. In Manhattan, there aren’t many empty sites waiting to be developed so a lot of the architectural work is renovation, especially in hospitality. I got to work on the Waldorf Astoria renovations. In New York they take heritage work very seriously and they’re pretty conservative compared to a relatively young city like Melbourne. Here, we’ve got a different attitude—a lot more freedom in our design creativity.

In project delivery, I like to be proactive and to anticipate issues before they arise. I’ve also learned patience. Jobs can go on for a very long time and just when you think you’ve reached a milestone sometimes you have to start again from scratch. You have to be flexible enough to rethink your ideas. You learn to tease out new ideas so you end up with a better product than you started with.

When I was at uni, I had to teach myself how to use a lot of the software I still use now. At ARM, you’re always trying new kinds of generative design techniques. You might use five or six different software packages in one day just to do your job so you really have to keep your skills up to date. One of the strengths of ARM staff is that we tend to be good thinkers and good problem solvers. There are so many knowledgeable people here who are good at learning from each other.”