James Woodburn, Managing Director

Photo James Woodburn

Professional Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Architecture (Honours), University of Melbourne (1975)
  • Masters Degree in Business Administration, Deakin University (1987)
  • Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
  • Registered Architect (Victoria) Australia

Personal Profile

James Woodburn has been a Director of Chebais Consulting for 18 years, and has provided specialist consulting services in management and retail design to many organisations, including Tompkins Shaw & Evans, Hames Sharley, Frankston City Council, Architectus, Gandel Retail Management, The Gandel Group, Colonial First State Global Asset Management, Kiwi Income Property Trust, CPA, and Perron Group.

In addition to being a director of Chebais Consulting, James co founded and became managing director of retailplan, a business which specialises in retail master planning and feasibility design preparation.

James has extensive experience in the development of major retail, entertainment, leisure, commercial, industrial, and sporting projects. He has nearly forty years experience in architecture both in Australia and overseas, including over 24 years at director level in Architectural and Construction industry organisations.

Whilst operating in the industry, James has developed strengths in:

  • analysing sites for development;
  • retail analysis and planning;
  • the preparation and marketing of feasibility proposals for projects;
  • developing design concepts for presentation;
  • presenting design concepts on behalf of the company;
  • recruitment and management of teams of employees to document designs for construction;
  • programming of staff resources and outputs;
  • the development of quality systems for project and general applications; and
  • monitoring and reporting on projects during design and construction phases.
  • Application of sustainability principles in retail and other project types
  • Development of IT systems within organisations to assist in the areas of Project Management, Enterprise Content Management and Archiving/retrieval of documents

He has extensive knowledge of CAD systems, Enterprise Content Management systems, web based Collaborative Management systems, spreadsheets, project management and other business IT applications suitable for designing buildings, streamlining work flows, programming outputs and managing project budgets and documents.

James has an honours degree in Architecture and a Masters degree in Business Administration.

Key Expertise

James has skills, knowledge and experience in the following areas:

  • Project Feasibility, Design, Documentation and Construction
  • Computer Aided Design and IT Business Applications
  • Marketing with a particular focus on Service organisations
  • Staff Recruitment and Training
  • Ecologically Sustainable Design

Professional Experience

Project Feasibility, Design and Documentation

Currently consulting as a design and management specialist to Architectural firms, retail developers/managers, and retail trusts. He has spent over 10 years consulting to Gandel Retail Management (now Colonial First State Global Asset Management) as a Design Consultant, 3 years as Manager of Architecture and Interior Design at Hames Sharley. Previously Architect, Director then Consultant with Tompkins Shaw & Evans for a total of fifteen years. Director of Building Technology Pty Ltd (Consulting firm) and Tectonique Pty Ltd (IT firm) for two years.

Key involvement in feasibility studies, programming, design and documentation for construction and redevelopment of major retail, entertainment, leisure, commercial, industrial, community and sporting projects including:


Emporium, Myer Bourke Street store, Belmont Shopping Centre, Sylvia Park Shopping Centre (NZ), Centre Place Shopping Centre (NZ), Lynnmall Shopping Centre (NZ),Chadstone Shopping Centre, Northland Shopping Centre, Bayside Shopping Centre, Midland Gate Shopping Centre, Corio Village Shopping Centre, Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre, Rockingham Shopping Centre, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, Rosebud Shopping Centre, Entertainment Quarter (Fox Studios), Grand Plaza Shopping Centre, Golden Grove shopping Centre, Karingal Hub, Knox City/Towerpoint, Sunshine Market Place, Greenslopes, Healesville Plaza, Gateway Plaza, Warringal Mall, Eastland, Hampton Park, Brandon Park, Quayside Frankston, The Pines, Wodonga Plaza, Hampton Park, Gateways Perth, Marong Village, Thomson Parkway, Horsham Plaza, Waverley Gardens interior refurbishment, Devon Plaza, Fountain Gate Stage 5, Sedgwick Square, Gateways Perth, Tok H Centre and Cranbourne Park Stage 2


  • 5 Martin Place, Sydney, retail
  • Galleria, Melbourne, retail
  • No 1 Collins Street, Melbourne Central Retail and Tower
  • Office development at 5 Lincoln Square, Carlton
  • Fountain Gate DSS Offices
  • HSV 7 News room, South Melbourne
  • Office development at 52 Albert Rd, South Melbourne

Leisure + Entertainment

  • Sunshine Entertainment Complex, Knox City Cinemas, Mandura Cinema Centre, Darebin Arts Centre, Nu Hotel Dandenong, Chateau Remy Conference Centre and Eltham Performing Arts Centre
  • Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club and Resort Club, Australian Gallery of Sport, Melbourne Cricket Ground Southern Stand, Northern Stand Superboxes and Scoreboard Control Room and Members Stand committee balcony
  • Sunshine Market Place and Entertainment Complex


  • Eastern Mail Centre and Sprintpak for Australia Post, Remy Australia headquarters, Chateau Remy Champagne Cellars, FH Faulding & Co office/warehouse refurbishment, Australian Airlines Valet Parking at Melbourne Airport, Cling HQ Thomastown

In addition to these larger projects, James has throughout his career participated in the design and construction of numerous residential and domestic scale projects including:

Smith House (Balwyn), Woodburn Pool House (Kew), Gawler House (Mitcham), Bendall Clubhouse (Kew), Govic town houses (West Heidelberg), Woodburn House (Carlton North), Farrar House (Kew), Markham House (Camberwell), Thomas House (Glen Iris), Durham House (Bacchus Marsh), Morton House ( Bacchus Marsh), Miklosvary House (Eltham), Woodburn House (Kew), Jayasekera House (Bendigo), Vale House (Bendigo), Scott House (Kew), Smith House (Balwyn), Newman House (Hawthorn East), Tainsh House (Balwyn).

In early 2003, James commenced work as Design Consultant at Gandel Retail Management. He has worked on Master Planning on most of the 40 centres in the GRM portfolio, as well as assisting in planning many centre reconfigurations. He has also participated in the acquisitions of several centres, added to the portfolio during his time with GRM (and subsequently Colonial First State Global Asset Management). He is an integral part of the Development Review Committee which analyses and promotes development projects for the organisation.

During the past few years, James has extended his client base to include KIPT in New Zealand, CPA, and Perron Group.

During the latter part of 2001, James and his family lived in Houston, Texas and travelled in the USA. They then flew to South America for 6 weeks of touring in Peru, Chile and Argentina followed by 3 months viewing the sights of England, Ireland and Western Europe.

He returned to Melbourne in 2002 to continue his role as an independent design and management consultant to Architects, Property Developers and Property Trust owners.

During the late 1990’s, James headed up the local design team for the $100m Knox City/Towerpoint project and carried that project during three years and many obstacles, through to construction. In addition, he was managing the 25 person Victorian office of Hames Sharley.

In his role as design co-ordinator for the Eastland project, James travelled to the USA to review a selection of significant shopping centre projects, and to work with the Los Angeles based Architectural firm of RTKL, concept designers for Eastland.

For several years, James was honorary Architect to the Argyle Road Kindergarten in Kew, during a period of intense redevelopment of the City of Boroondara owned property.

During the late 1980′s, James took two years leave of absence from TS+E to become a Director of Building Technology Pty Ltd, acting as a consultant to several significant Architectural and Engineering firms. His consulting services included providing specifications, construction advice and quality assurance systems for major projects including Melbourne Central.

He also took on a directorship of Tectonique Pty Ltd, a firm which specialised in the provision to the construction industry, of software and hardware facilitating CADD, Financial Management and Quality Assurance.

In addition James was seconded to the firm of PDCM (Robert Peck, Denton, Corker and Marshall) for a short period. During this time he was responsible for documenting the restoration of historic Collins Street building facades for the No 1 Collins Street redevelopment.

From 1977-1979, James lived and worked in London for the firm of John R Harris, designing and documenting major hospital, residential and prison projects in England and the Middle East including:

  • Thorney Court Apartments, London
  • Griston Prison, Norfolk
  • New Dubai Hospital, Dubai

Computer Aided Design and Business Applications

At GRM, James led the introduction of the Aconex web-based document management and storage system, and continues to manage its application on active projects and archiving of project documents. In addition, he organises the Development Department IT Capex annual budget, reviewing and evaluating appropriate technology to help the department to better perform its functions.

James has a good working knowledge of several CAD packages including Auto Cad, DataCad, Archicad and Intergraph Microstation. He co-ordinated capital investment in, and development of, the IT system at Hames Sharley and previously provided advice to the Directors of TS&E to assist them in the introduction of computer technology to the firm. He continued to monitor and advise on system upgrades and improvements.

Whilst a Director at Tectonique Pty Ltd, he marketed Financial Management software to Architectural and Engineering firms nationally. James facilitated financial management workshops under the auspices of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects as part of its professional development program. He also edited the “Architects and Computers” column of the RAIA Victorian Chapter magazine during 1988/89.


James’ major project as part of his MBA program involved research into the effective marketing of professional organisations, including marketing audits and the development of marketing plans.

For the 1992 RAIA Convention in Melbourne, James co-organised and hosted the successful Marketing workshops covering topics such as value adding to Architectural Services and effective presentation of proposals.

James has contributed, on the subject of retail development, to articles in Shopping Centre News and The Age Newspaper

Staff Training

Following the introduction of Aconex at GRM, James organises training of GRM (and subsequently CFSGAM) staff at head office and at the centres on an ongoing basis.

He regularly speaks on the subject of overseas retail trends within CFSGAM, and has developed a significant resource of photographs and drawings of centres from all over the world. He travels overseas regularly and makes in house presentations to a range of CFSGAM departments. He has, for some years, lectured on the subject of Retail Design as part of an Australian Institute of Management property course.

James was responsible for planning and co-ordinating professional staff training at Hames Sharley in the areas of Building Products, Design, and Computer systems. He organised seminars and other training activities on a regular basis for directors and staff over a period of several years. On a regular basis, James was responsible for conducting and reporting on staff performance reviews at Hames Sharley.

In 1992, James co-convened the Marketing sessions forming part of the RAIA Convention in Melbourne.

During his time at Tectonique, James conducted professional training seminars nationally, under the auspices of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, on the subject of Business Administration software applications. He also edited the “Architects and Computers” column published monthly in the RAIA magazine “Architect”.

Prior to that, James organised, for Tompkins Shaw & Evans Pty Ltd, a program, in compliance with the Government’s Training Guarantee requirements and administered activities in key training areas for several years.