The Soft Build Back Story

 There’s the soft build and the hard build.  You need to start acting as if you were already in the new building, long before you are in the new buildingProfessor Jim Angus, Dean of Medicine, The University of Melbourne

From: Wittenoom, Sue
Sent: Monday July 6, 2015
To: Angus, James
Subject: Now working on The Soft Build

Dear Jim

I wanted to send you a note to let you know about your special contribution to the next step in my working life.


I’m creating a new consultancy to provide change strategy for the reinvention and renewal of buildings and spaces. I’m calling it “The Soft Build”, and I wanted to acknowledge that you were the first person who described my work in that way.


I loved the idea the first time I heard you raise it in a steering committee meeting for the Aikenhead Centre at St Vincents in 2008. I was part of the DEGW team developing the strategic brief for the new buildings. You talked about the soft build and the hard build, and the need to start acting as if you were already in the new building, well before you actually were.

This idea of the soft build came up again in 2009 when we were helping with the planning for the Melbourne Brain Institute. The building design was well resolved by that stage, but there was a sense that the founders hadn’t yet realised the potential of this new facility. Our starting orders were to assess the plans and the people, and to see what more could be done to make the new building – and the new organisational alliance – a success. In essence, that’s what I’m going to focus on now that my role at AECOM is changing.

So your insight is my inspiration. Thank you.


Best wishes,


The Soft Build is a strategy consultancy that helps people use buildings as a scaffold for organisational change.

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