Business Central April 2022

| 73 Chow Hill Architects A broader portfolio, a bright future T Virginia Wright Chow Hill’s relationship with local car dealer Ebbetts goes back to their very early days. ARCHITECTURE Chow Hill Architects Ltd. was founded in Hamilton 30 years ago by Richard Hill and Chien Chow, but its expanded well beyond its commercial origins to a much broader portfolio including health, aged care, tertiary, public realm, landscape, and interiors; which is to say they cover most things to do with architectural design. It’s now owned and run by a group of eight people, and has expanded to also have premises in Auckland and Christchurch with a combined staff of 75. Commercial still figures highly on their list and is what one of the current directors Brian Rastrick specializes in, including a lot of work with car manufacturers and car dealers. Chow Hill’s relationship with local car dealer Ebbetts goes back to their very early days, and Brian has been working with them since he started around 15 years ago. They’ve built more than one building over the years and won a Master Builders Award with an Ebbett project five years ago. More recently their multi-million dollar purpose-built Ebbett showroom known as the Ebbett Gateway Project was nominated for the 2021 New Zealand Commercial Property Awards. Thanks to Covid the judging has been held up but the building is a testament to not only their architectural design skills, but also their ability to collaborate and communicate to the benefit of all concerned, clients and contractors alike. This is perhaps not too surprising given that Chow Hill Architects’ tag line is “Connect, Collaborate, and Create,” as Brian explains. “Collaboration is used all the time but I think listening is the key to our success,” says Brian. “When we connect with a client we’re basically listening to them and collaborating with them to understand what they need, then creating together to successfully design what they want, and the success is obviously both for us and more importantly for them,” says Brian. The collaboration extends beyond the client to include everyone from key contractors down through the layers to everyone involved in the build. For a design to be successful it must also be completed on time and on budget, and Brian attributes part of the Ebbett Gateway Project’s success to having Fosters Construction team involved with the design process very early on. “So they came on as an early contractor engagement for this project,” explains Brian. “We got their advice and their costings really early on in the project which helped make it viable, and we worked with the construction team quite closely in the design process, not just finishing the drawings and then having them build it.” No doubt the mutual trust that comes with a long-standing working relationship helped as the design for the Ebbett Gateway Project took shape in a way that wasn’t typical for a car-dealership premises. “Ebbett wanted to make a statement with the design, and that statement was as much to do with Ebbett as it was to do with a particular brand, but still making sure the brands get everything they need and it’s fit-for-purpose,” says Brian. “One of the original design drivers was that the design had to be customer-centric, so it doesn’t feel like you’re going to a car yard where you’ll be pounced on by a salesman.” The resulting 25,000m2 site combines stateof-the-art commercial architecture with a sophisticated approach to meeting a contemporary customer’s needs. Built to accommodate showrooms, service centres and the head office team overseeing group operations as well as a panel&paint premises and tyre shop all on site, a shared boulevard runs between the two main showroom buildings, one for Ebbett Volkswagon, the other for the Ebbett General Motors. With landscaped trees and lights and concrete features complete with wide carparking spaces, it’s all designed “to make it feel like a front-of-house experience rather than just going to a car-dealership.” “The showrooms are customer focused too with barista cafes and soft seating rather than a whole lot of sales desks lining up along the walls as you walk in.” “One of the original design drivers was that the design had to be customer-centric, so it doesn’t feel like you’re going to a car yard.” REGAL JOINERY Aluminium Joinery Commercial 102 Kent Street, Hamilton 07 847 9882 REGAL Proud to support Chow Hill Architects L o r d & C o · Commercial & Industrial · Rural: Feed Pads - Silage Pit & Cow Sheds · Tennis Courts · Residential: Driveways - House Floors - Patios