InterVIEW: Tracey Michaels

Finding and developing a successful niche in the Car Wash industry! I am commonly known as the “Car Wash Queen”; where I am able to develop a project from the initial sketch stage, complete the Town Planning documentation and then deliver a full set of construction drawings including the Architectural drafting/Building Design, Structural/Civil and Hydraulic Engineering- all myself! Seeing a project go from start to finish, knowing that you have designed all aspects of it gives me great satisfaction. I get to work with amazing clients all around Australia and New Zealand; which is a rare opportunity that I enjoy.

What is your favourite project that you have worked on, and why?

In 2009 I designed this ‘wave’ Car Wash in Cheltenham. Over my career I have designed over 120 car washes, this one is still my favourite as my client wanted something different and the ‘wave’ look was developed. Due to the ridge/trough placement, I was able to only have 1 box gutter and 1 eave gutter for the main roof.

I complemented the curved roof structure with an inset fascia truss that had different inflection points to the main roof to add variation and depth to the building façade. I continued the colours of the fascia truss/roof throughout the concrete panel areas to maintain the ‘wave’ flowing throughout the entire structure.

I love projects where I get to be creative and do something a little different than your standard ‘box‘ Car Wash. At the end of the day it all comes down to the creativity of your Client. With creative design (both architectural and engineering) you can achieve interesting building façades without blowing the project budget.

My favourite finish is?

Rum and coke on a Friday afternoon… But on a serious note –

I predominately work with concrete panels and steelwork. So I am constantly thinking of new and interesting cost effective techniques to ‘joosh’ up the buildings that I design.

The architectural style of the home I grew up in?

I grew up in a typical 1960’s brick-veneer house in Gippsland. It was a standard 3 bedroom, central bathroom and 1 living area modest home. It fitted Mum, Dad and my brother without any troubles. The building design didn’t shape any architectural views that I have today; but I am grateful for my humble upbringing.

I joined the Design Matters because?

Networking, continuous learning, keeping up to date with current trends, CPD and to be inspired by other members’ designs and creativity.

My favourite Australian building is?

This may be a let-down to some people; but I have always loved the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Maybe more so for the icon of the building/structure that it is and what it represents to me.

Draped in your team colours, I’ve always loved the walk down from Federation Square and over the William Barak Bridge, the banter along the way and the atmosphere. I’ve loved seeing this structure reinvent itself since its initial inception back in 1853. Sometimes architecture is not just about the external beauty of a façade, it is about evoking emotion and a deeper feeling within.

My favourite international building is?

I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona to see Gaudi’s work- that is a bucket list item. Of what I have seen on totally a different level of architecture would be Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Having experienced this building first hand it is simply different and in my view elegant! The technical design, construction and on-going

stabilisation methods used is mind-blowing; with the three asymmetrical towers and a 3 acre roof deck that cantilevers 65M at its outermost point. And if you have ever seen the light show that they project from it and the surrounding buildings nightly? Put simply… WOW!

My words of wisdom for a student building designer are?

Never stop learning and listening. Be dedicated and put in the hard yards early in your career. The hardest times might be just before your biggest breakthroughs. Continually strive to improve. You will get out what you put in. Success rewards hard work. Learn from your mistakes. Push the envelope, but know your boundaries and when to ask for help.

When I was a child I wanted to be?

I never really knew what I wanted to do until my year 10 careers teacher suggested that I might like Engineering as I was good at maths. At that stage I didn’t even know what an Engineer was!

I read a book about Engineering and decided that Structural/Civil Engineering sounded good- so I did that! From an earlier memory, from about age 12, I enjoyed looking over house floor plans that I’d find in a magazine or a brochure. I’d collect them and still have them to this day! In hindsight maybe I was destined to be where I am today, with a mix of both Engineering and Building Design skills.

Outside of work, I am passionate about?

Spending as much time as possible with my young family and friends.

Keeping active by running, cycling, bikram yoga, basketball and tennis. I love triathlons, and have completed 2 Ironman and 16 half Ironman races back in the day before bub arrived!

At the moment I am reading?

“Mighty Fighting Hawks” by Martin Blake; which is a detailed history of the Hawthorn Football Club since Alistair Clarkson’s inception as coach back in 2005 – a great eye opening read. Love my Hawks!

My life in 4 words?

Loving, determined, happy and successful.

I deleted ‘resilient’ for ‘happy’ because when you are happy nothing else really matters!

Favourite Quote?

“Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.”