Over the construction of the new 7-8 Learning Centre, we will speak with some of the people who are part of the project to gain their insight - whether it is building, designing or the pedagogical side!

Simon Morris, site manager, McCorkell Constructions.

Simon Morris, of McCorkell Constructions, is the site manager of the new Year 7-8 Learning Centre construction and has first-hand insight to the development.

“As the site manager, I make sure people come and go at the right time and are doing the right things, and doing them in a safe manner,” Simon says. “We have a building program to go by, and try and follow it best we can. I am also the liaison with the school.”

Working on buildings for education isn’t new; some of his significant past projects have included the Wheeler Centre at the State Library, Springvale Town Hall and a building at Ruyton. Inevitably, he’s seen changes amongst the educational building industry: “Everyone likes curves,” he says with a smile. “We’re not doing nearly as many straight lines as we used to.”

With his whole family in building, it seemed like a natural fit for Simon as a career path.

“It’s always changing,” he says. “I don’t sit in the same office everyday. I’m in the mud, and get to see the finished building at the end.”

The diversity is also one of Simon’s favourite parts of his job. “You’re usually on a particular job for one to one and a half years and you see it change, you get a visual representation of what you’ve achieved. Then you start again on the next project, so it’s always something different.”

Every project certainly has its interesting times, and our MLC development no different. Grove Avenue, which is the centre pathway through the middle of the MLC campus, where the current development is situated, used to be a road up until the late 1930s.

“As it was a road once, it carried the sewerage, the stormwater, the gas,” Simon explains. “So it’s had to all be rediverted so we could build the new building on top.

The redirection of services has been the most difficult part, with minimising the school disruption, including any power shutdowns we’ve had to do as we transfer all the power across from the old substation to the new substation.”

After the services have been directed, what’s the next challenge on the horizon?

“The walls,” Simon says. “There are a lot of lean backs and curves!”

Simon is the father of three daughters himself, and is strong in the belief that the building industry is not as male-dominated as we might think. “Females can take any role in the building industry,” he says. “Our assistant project manager is female, as is our construction manager. In the office, it’s about 50-50. One or two of my daughters might join me in the industry one day!”

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