Grace & Grace Plus opens Samoa office

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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NEW BUSINESS: Lauano Lauina and Terry Grace.

NEW BUSINESS: Lauano Lauina and Terry Grace. (Photo: Ivamere Nataro)

Lauano Lauina Grace, a female architect, has returned home after about 30 years in Australia, to set up a new architectural and project management practice.  

Lauano was born and raised in Samoa. 

She attended Vaigaga Primary School, Leiifiifi Intermediate and Samoa College. 

She studied architecture at the University of Auckland under a New Zealand Bilateral Aid Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B.Arch) in 1985. Lauano also completed a Masters in Construction Project Management at the University of New South Wales in 2015. 

She worked for the Public Works Department (now M.W.T.I.) after graduating before migrating with her husband, Terry Grace, to Sydney, Australia in late 1988.

Lauano has worked in the public and private sectors in Australia, managing complex and politically sensitive projects, leading diverse teams and managing stakeholders to successfully deliver projects, often exceeding client expectations. 

“I’ve had the privilege of working on major projects in Australia, for multi-national corporations and large government organisations, managing infrastructure valued over AUS$1 billion (T$1.9b) and delivering programmes of work valued over AUD$120 million (T$229.8m),” said Lauano. 

She attributes her success to hard work and having great mentors who provided guidance and advice throughout her career. “Now it’s time to give back, to help someone else learn from my experience.

Lauano believes that: “There is a need for well-designed buildings in Samoa. Great architecture enriches our lives – physically, psychologically, spiritually and emotionally – and leaves a legacy for generations to come. Well-designed buildings contribute positively to the landscape and should sustain and protect the environment.”

The Graces made the decision to move back to Samoa when Lauina was bestowed the Lauano title by her family at Leauva’a in 2016. As the new sa’o of her family, she decided she was more effective as a leader closer to her family and village. 

Their three children had also become more independent making the move a lot easier. “I have always planned to return home so that I can contribute to the development of Samoa using my skills and experience as an architect and project manager,” said Lauano.

Lauano and Terry established Grace & Grace Plus (G.G.P.), a multi-disciplinary firm specialising in architecture, project management and construction law, in Sydney in 2014. G.G.P. Samoa was set up in December 2017.

 “We’ve set up the business with our savings and it’s one of the things that we wanted to do, having lived and worked away overseas,” Lauano said. 

“The biggest cost of course is software and making sure we’ve got the right technology to perform the work that we do, but we want to start putting on the right staff. We are using a lot of local consultants and slowly building up a network of local people we can work with.”

G.G.P. Samoa provides full architectural services from Brief Development, Concept Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documentation, Tendering and Contract Administration. G.G.P. also offers Project Management Services. 

Their first project in Samoa is the design and tender documentation for the new U.N. Headquarters at Tuanaimato, One U.N. House.

 “This is a tremendous project for G.G.P. and provides an opportunity to learn how things currently work in Samoa. A lot has changed since my time with Public Works,” said Lauano.

She would like to make architecture affordable and accessible to all Samoans and is working on a low-cost prototype house design that people with low incomes can afford. “I believe that it is my social responsibility as an architect to raise the standard of housing, especially for low income families in the villages, using my skills and expertise,” said Lauano.

Mr. Grace is a construction law specialist and currently heads G.G.P. Australia. He worked at the Attorney General’s office from 1985 to 1988. “I had the privilege many years ago to work in the Attorney General’s office, meet the love of my life and fall in love with Samoa. It’s nice to come back here and say, ‘look we’ve done it out there in the big world, we’ve learned a lot which can be beneficial here’ and be able to put back and make a difference,” said Mr. Grace. 

Asked if she was worried about competition, Lauano replied: “There are a couple of established architectural firms in Samoa. There is certainly a gap that G.G.P. can fill with our overseas experience and skills in managing complex and sensitive projects. We are one of very few firms (architectural and engineering) in Samoa with qualified and experienced project managers. This gives G.G.P. a competitive edge.”

Asked about her views on the proposal to pull down the old Court House Building, Lauano replied: “I hope it doesn’t happen and that we are able to save at least the original Court House Building (c1903). This building is of exceptional cultural and heritage value to the Government and people of Samoa. It is of architectural significance as a rare example of an existing building dating back to the German colonial administration era. Pulling it down and rebuilding it doesn’t make sense.”

Lauano’s parents are the late Leu Salevao Poutoa Petelo Ah Young (businessman) and Gutua’ioualofa (Gutu) Lauano Ah Young (teacher). Lauano’s family come from Leauva’a, Patamea, Afega, Vaiala and Solosolo (Samoa) as well as Sa’ilele and Manu’a (American Samoa). Terry’s family is from Taranaki and Gisborne, New Zealand.

For additional information on GGP, contact Lauano Lauina Grace on M: +685 757 2737 E: Lauina.Grace@graceandgraceplus.com 

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