Regional Talent Key to Growth of Australian Planning & Design Firm

Place Design Group has announced the acquisition of James Birrell Design Lab (JBDL). The move represents a significant milestone for the award-winning planning and design firm in strengthening its commitment to the regions and focus on place making.

Beth Toon, CEO, Place Design Group, said the acquisition is a rare opportunity to bring regional talent with international reach and reputation into the Place Design Group fold.

“We are incredibly excited to announce our new offering – Place Design Group inc. James Birrell Design Lab.  Today more than ever, we are seeing rapid change across our regions, with major infrastructure and community shaping projects coming online. James Birrell, head of JBDL is a leading voice on Queensland’s thriving Sunshine Coast and is already driving significant change for the region as the founding father for the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit project, having developed the original concepts in 2006 and now sitting on the SCLR Taskforce. Bringing the team’s focus and multi-disciplinary expertise into our wider group is a huge coup for us.”

JBDL is a dynamic design consultancy with a diverse skill set across urban design, landscape architecture, community consultation, placemaking, activation, art and event curation.   Based on the Sunshine Coast, the team has built a national and international footprint, leading designs such as Bicheno Town Centre Revitalisation in Tasmania, Zhongshan Business Park in China, Sveti Rok Golf Course in Croatia, and Fantastic Planet, an art curation with Tasmanian based artist Amanda Parer, which has toured globally including Paris, Prague, Finland and Taiwan. The consultancy is a proponent of culturally rich and environmentally focused urban systems and landscapes that are defined by a modernist and humanist approach to design.

Mr Birrell said he and his team are thrilled to join Place Design Group.

“Having established JBDL in 2014, my vision was to create a dynamic design practice that also activated places through cultural curation and community empowerment.  Having achieved so much, the ability to continue to drive this vision will now take a significant leap forward, joining Place Design Group and having access to a 200 strong team and project experience across Australia, China, and South East Asia.”

Place Design Group has a rich legacy of major projects that have shaped the Sunshine Coast over the last twenty years.  From the renewal of Mooloolaba, development of the Sunshine Coast Airport, planning and design of the new Maroochydore City Centre and Sunshine Coast University Hospital, to today’s significant projects including the renewal of Queensland Tourism’s iconic Big Pineapple, Stockland’s Aura City of Colour, and major infrastructure project, the Sunshine Coast Light Rail.

The acquisition has strengthened Place Design Group’s ability to make a significant contribution to the Sunshine Coast community for the next twenty years.  It also enables the firm to continue to grow a new form of diversified and innovative design leadership. This will not only benefit locally but more broadly across their Australian and international teams with the firm’s collaborative design approach.

Shaun Munday, Managing Director, Place Design Group, said it has been a seamless integration for the JBDL team to join Place Design Group.

“James developed a unique style at JBDL that was open, approachable, outcome focussed, and relationship based. All the characteristics that reflect our own set of values.  So, the decision to bring the team into our own was really easy.  Having connected through our partnership on the most recent iteration of the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit project, we discovered a shared passion for the future for the Sunshine Coast knowing that a modern transport solution was the only way to see the coast prosper through making the most of its unique coastal lifestyle while protecting an extraordinary hinterland and natural environment.

“It isn’t every day that you find another team that reflects your vision and values so strongly.  We are incredibly excited to work together to lead the way in shaping a bright future for the not only Sunshine Coast but the wider communities we work with.”