Hugh Wilson Aviation

Associate Principal Hugh Wilson has been at the forefront of many important projects based in New South Wales.  In this interview, Hugh discusses new work on the Sydney Airport, the role of peer review in government projects, his career in engineering, and the future trends in the Sydney market.


You recently won a project with Sydney Airport. What does that project mean from Integral Group’s perspective?

This is a really exciting step in our relationships with both Sydney Airport and architects DesignInc which have been gaining momentum through hard work and perseverance over 5 years. The project expands the Sydney Terminal 2 Check In Hall which is direly needed from both an airport capacity point of view, but also as an iconic development you first see when entering the Domestic precinct, the first point of interaction for passengers within Terminal 2. From Integral Group’s perspective it is an honour to be entrusted with such a significant and strategically important project for the Airport.

You also recently won a tender for a peer review role for Inner Sydney High School for Schools Infrastructure New South Wales. Can you tell us about that project and your involvement?

The Inner Sydney High School project is a major exercise to redevelop the existing site (previously known as Cleveland Street Intensive English High School) into an all new high school including refurbishment of the existing 3 heritage-listed buildings on site, and construction of an all-new 12-storey tower in one of the first high rise schools to be constructed in New South Wales.

Integral Group’s involvement started with a peer review of the design documentation for schools infrastructure, and has expanded to include a watching brief engagement to include construction stage and finalisation assistance to ensure the government is provided with a high-quality outcome for their long term use as a learning environment.

Can you explain the role of a peer review in this context?

The peer review role keeps an eye on the design and construction process from the perspective of the end client. Our role, independent of the construction team, is vested in the interests of the end client, aimed only at getting a high-quality outcome.

Your expertise is in mechanical engineering. What made you want to pursue this discipline?

I really wanted to be an aeronautical engineer after working at a large architectural practice in London. This was in my backpacking days. When I got back home to Sydney I realised I wouldn’t get into that course so I “settled” for mechanical engineering – the best decision I ever made because I loved it from the start.

What value do you believe that mechanical engineers bring to large projects, particularly in the aviation space?

A really interesting element of the aviation space is that airports are large public buildings requiring significant fire safety systems that don’t always fall within specific categories in building standards. Smoke management systems play a vital role in maintaining a safe environment for passengers.

You seem to be winning a lot of projects lately despite it being a highly competitive market. What do you think people are looking for in their building services engineers?

This is a service industry and the most important thing we can do is provide a good quality, personal service to our clients. I think clients are looking to work with people that will listen and try to understand their needs, and then react in a highly tailored way to meet their requirements and solve their problems. Clients also like to see some passion.

In the context of building services, what are some of the most interesting changes or trends you have noticed in the Sydney market?

The obvious answer is the prevalence of Design and Construct as a procurement model. However, the trend I have noticed is that the level of engagement of consultants fluctuates in a seemingly cyclical fashion. I know many clients who have moved towards D&C, then had a bad experience, then move back to full design – or at least more design – and then move back again.


Want to connect with Hugh to learn more about his work?  Reach out to him here.