NIC Magdalinos won't repeat the comment his father Paris made about Nic's first job as a financial planner.

"He made a remark about doing something more tangible than that," he said.

"He thought I should be working here, learning from home a few things, while I understood what I wanted to do.

"Paris has always instilled pretty strong principles about community and family. This is where our roots are, so it was quite an easy decision to make."


After Lindisfarne College, Nic completed a history and political studies degree and postgraduate papers in business and property.

He did a gap year in his mother's native Ireland, living in Belfast where British troops patrolled the streets.

"I've always been interested in the little bit of conflict."

He returned to Hawke's Bay at the start of 2004 where his father tasked his youngest son with putting a commercial framework on Paris Magdalinos Architects (PMA).

Nic was promoted to managing director in 2007, a year before his father died from cancer aged 66, just eight days after diagnosis.

Paris Magdalinos was 11 when he arrived in New Zealand with his parents as post-WWII refugees.

They were successful hoteliers living in Romania but ordered home to their native Greece, as all non-Romanians were.

They were from the idyllic island of Cephalonia but, with Greece suffering a bitter civil war, they were very glad to escape to New Zealand, staying in a refugee camp in Pahiatua before Hawke's Bay.

Nic said his father wanted to be an architect from a young age and he was good at it - his Napier business flourished.

High-profile developments such as EIT in Taradale, and Plant and Food in Havelock North were "archetypal Paris".

He often called his father by his first name.

"We had a very close friendship as much as anything."

From his first day at PMA, Paris tasked Nic with maintaining client relationships.

"He told me I needed to be out in Auckland and Wellington every week, making sure I solidified relationships with larger clients and understanding how their businesses worked."

Long-term relationships mattered in the construction/development industry, he said.
"The duration of our projects are not measured in months, they are measured in years. In many cases, it can be a decade.

"The way you look at the world is a little bit different - it's a long game."

PMA has more than 20 staff in its Napier office, and offices in Auckland and Queenstown. The Queenstown office is fronted by John Blair, a contemporary of Paris Magdalinos and design consultant to Craggy Range and Elephant Hill wineries.

"When Paris was around, we had a large proportion outside Hawke's Bay - 80-odd per cent. Post-Global Financial Crisis we pulled that back to about 20 per cent outside Hawke's Bay but we also looked at some significant growth opportunity offshore."

Today 70 per cent of projects are outside Hawke's Bay and up to 10 per cent offshore, thanks to multi-nationals pleased with New Zealand PMA projects.

Hawke's Bay was a suitable place for a nationally-based company. "Travelling in and out of Hawke's Bay is not difficult - we can be in a Wellington meeting by eight in the morning. It is a little bit more difficult with the traffic in Auckland, but effectively it's just a commute and many people do it. You get to know the regulars on the plane."

Multinational clients, happy with New Zealand work, led to offshore work as far as the Middle East.

Nic was called into PMA when the firm was busy from a buoyant property sector and he said it was currently "very, very buoyant", with Auckland taking over from post-earthquake Christchurch's's rebuilding boom for a "once-in-a-generation" amount of work.

"That gives us the opportunity to work on some fantastic projects."

With dozens of architects, there is a large palette of styles and skills to draw on. Further depth comes from of PMA's involvement with Design Group New Zealand - a company comprising seven independent architecture firms with 180 staff under its umbrella.

Current PMA projects include hotel work in Queenstown and Rotorua. In Auckland and Wellington, it is working on apartment buildings. All are "significant" projects that "easily outstrip" the value of its Hawke's Bay projects.

Despite the out-of-town growth PMA still has its eye on home.

"We are very proud of the fact that in Hawke's Bay, post-Paris, we have undertaken such projects as: Farmers building, Paxie building and laneway, the Post Office redevelopment in Napier, which saved it from being demolished due to it being earthquake-prone, Business Hawkes Bay Hub, the new Port building, and a huge amount of work for the McKimm's in Ahuriri.

"Currently, we are working on the Marine Parade redevelopment for Napier City Council, redevelopment of the former Napier Hospital site - a very big project - the airport terminal redevelopment and ongoing work at EIT."

PMA is not just popular in the architecture, engineering and construction sector - it wins more than its share of architecture awards.

The latest was at the Gisborne/Hawke's Bay Architecture Awards where, despite the firm's multinational work, all three awards were for projects in Napier: the Hawke's Bay Business Hub in Ahuriri, EIT Campus amenities in Taradale and Napier's Port's new administration centre.

"We have always been design-focused and have fantastic people. Fantastic people and fantastic clients give us the opportunity to continually win awards both here and elsewhere.

"The design accolades we have received are testament to the fantastic skills of the architects within PMA and also testament to the fantastic opportunities we are given by our clients."

Its Hawke's Bay base was another reason for success.

"Hawke's Bay has a huge array of very, very talented people whether they be other professional services - engineers, lawyers, architects, accountants - or whether they be contractors and shopfitters.

"We often work on contracts nationally with companies that are based here. We like our network."

At age 34, he has no plans to take another direction - he said he is constantly gleaning insights into industries, such as airport design, where PMA has carved a niche.

When asked about favourite projects, he said solving problems for clients was just as rewarding as whole projects and design accolades.

While he lives his father's legacy, one project is sweet irony - he is project director for the $21 million Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre rebuild.