2024 National Prizes: Philip Thalis receives Gold Medal

2024 Gold Medal Winner, Philip Thalis | Photographer: Nic Walker

The Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) proudly unveils the distinguished recipients of the 2024 National Prizes, recognising outstanding contributions to the field of architecture across Australia. This esteemed accolade ceremony took place at the Australian Architecture Conference, at Hamer Hall in Melbourne on Friday 10 May.

2024 Prize recipients:

  • Gold Medal, Philip Thalis (NSW)
  • National Presidents Prize, Naomi Milgrom (VIC)
  • Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize, Monica Edwards (NSW)
  • Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize, Simon Anderson (WA)
  • Leadership in Sustainability Prize, Abbie Galvin and Paulo Macchia (NSW)
  • Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture, Hudson Smith (QLD)


The Gold Medal is the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour. It recognizes distinguished service by architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit, produced work of great distinction resulting in the advancement of architecture, or endowed the profession of architecture in a distinguished manner. The Gold Medal for 2024 has been awarded to Philip Thalis, founding principal of Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects.

“As Chair of Juries, witnessing the breadth of experience and excellence showcased by this year’s recipients of the 2024 National Prizes fills me with immense pride. Each honoree exemplifies the highest architectural innovation, leadership, and dedication standards, leaving an indelible mark on the profession. Their collective contributions not only shape our built environment but inspire future architects to push boundaries and redefine what is possible in architecture,” says Stuart Tanner, National President of the Australian Institute of Architects.

The Institute congratulates all the recipients of the 2024 National Prizes for their remarkable achievements and profound impact on the architectural landscape of Australia.

Gold Medal – Philip Thalis (NSW

Philip Thalis’s work demonstrates the value of research to not only built projects but also their underpinnings, such as precinct planning, urban design, typology, heritage and advocacy. Extending beyond the theoretical, this research points to a rigorous and wholistic design sensibility, and reinforces the need for critical urban thinking in all Australian cities at a time of increasing growth and density.

A vocal and public figure, Thalis has combined excellence in design through leadership of his practice, Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects, with policy and advocacy for the built environment, as an elected independent councillor with City of Sydney (2016–2021). It is this capacity to span both private and public arenas that places Thalis in a pivotal position within the practice of architecture. Further, his contribution to research on Sydney’s architectural history and his ongoing commitment to teaching consolidates his all-round exceptional leadership in our field.

An urbanist at heart, Thalis demonstrates how a higher-density future can also yield a quality public realm and civic opportunity. His design thinking is effective across all scales: from the joy of a light-filled and affordable dwelling interior through to precinct formation and masterplanning. Through well-chosen typologies and high levels of amenity over flamboyant style and empty icons, his work relates people with each other and with place. His active promotion of the culture of architecture and city-making stands as a beacon and shows a rarely matched dedication to the public realm.

As Australia learns to lean in to the density dictated by the current housing affordability and climate crisis, and we become more reliant on public spaces as community living rooms, there is much to be learned from Thalis’s approach. His work in Linking Canberra to the Lake, and the Escarpment Boardwalk and Lennox Bridge at Parramatta, show how a dexterous, light hand can achieve a new level of connectivity and restore our relationship with place.

Using architectural knowledge as an instrument of change and a force for good in our cities and suburbs, Thalis is a role model for the architect as a public intellectual. 

National Presidents Prize, Naomi Milgrom (vic)

The National President’s Prize recognizes an individual’s contribution to the advancement of architecture in any significant way, other than through architectural design, practice or education. The 2024 recipient of the National President’s prize is Naomi Milgrom AC.

Milgrom stands as one of our profession’s greatest supporters, advocating tirelessly for art, architecture and design excellence in the public realm. Her identification of the value of design for everyone, and her recognition that a work does not need to be understood to move us, is critical to furthering the discourse of architecture.

The MPavilion commission, an initiative made possible by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, continues to explore the highest levels of design philosophy through engagement with some of the world’s most eminent practitioners, and shares this exploration with the public through the fabrication of the pavilions and the experiences offered by the program. The series exemplifies Milgrom’s dedication to the crucial role that sophisticated design philosophy and execution in the built context plays in broadening our perspectives. Through the cultural vehicle of the MPavilion program, we can experience built space and reasoning as one. Like all great art, the MPavilion provokes a higher sensation, raising our awareness of architecture as a transformative artefact.

Such a commitment to the intrinsic enrichment of art and design through architecture in a public setting is rare in Australia. Works such as MPavilion allow us space to contemplate. Like all great works of art, they provoke a higher sensation, raising our awareness of architecture as a transformative artefact.

Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize, Monica Edwards 

A mid-career architect practising in Sydney with a tremendous portfolio of significant, awarded projects, Monica Edwards has demonstrated a commitment to gender equity based on a top-down and a bottom-up approach. She was an inaugural member of the New South Wales Chapter’s Gender Equity Taskforce (GET) in 2011 and has continued to contribute as a member of the National Committee for Gender Equity.

Edwards’ top-down work includes her impactful collaboration with the Champions of Change Coalition. As an Implementation Leader and Specialist Advisor with the Champions of Change Architecture Group, she was central in developing toolkits for flexibility in practice; providing a generous, non-gendered parental leave scheme; developing programs for mentoring and sponsorship; addressing sexual discrimination; recognizing domestic and family violence as a workplace issue; and building frameworks that ensure a diverse talent pipeline. Her work with the Champions and GET resulted in collaborations with Parlour that have helped to radically alter practice across Australia.

As an architect in practice, Edwards has taken a bottom-up approach to building workplace policy that is fair and practical. Through small, incremental moves over a long period, she has helped to reframe the way we deliver architecture, resulting in women’s representation at every level of leadership.

Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize, Simon Anderson (WA)

Simon Anderson’s contribution to architectural education over a 34-year-long career is undeniable. His dedication to his students and their learning, alongside a substantial publication record, has made him one of Australia’s preeminent architectural educators. He has mentored countless emerging practitioners in the process.

From 2010 to 2016, Anderson served as the dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at the University of Western Australia, overseeing the transition of the faculty into the UWA School of Design. In this role, he pioneered the development of the practitioner–academic model of university tenure, reflecting his own substantial contribution across the domains of practice, teaching and research. An internationally cited academic, his commitment to the profession extends to aid work and advising the government of New South Wales.

Leadership in Sustainability Prize, Abbie Galvin and Paulo Macchia (NSW)

The Government Architect NSW team, led by Abbie Galvin and Paulo Macchia, has showcased exceptional leadership in all aspects of sustainability. Their display of courage and leadership in implementing sustainable practices and policies aligns with the broader governmental principles. This achievement not only demonstrates their commitment to environmental stewardship but also serves as an inspiration for others striving for sustainable development and progressive urban strategy.

This team has worked closely with the NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) team to establish a bold and elegant method of standardizing the measurement of embodied carbon – the foundational step to solving the carbon problem. By exercising judicious soft power with wisdom and perseverance, Abbie Galvin, Paulo Macchia and team – especially Jillian Hopkins and Lucy Rimmer – have ensured that leading planning reform was not lost. Instead, they carefully wove it into a new form, delivering national leadership as New South Wales became the first state to require architects and developers to calculate the embodied carbon in their designs. 

Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture, Hudson Smith (QLD)

Hudson Smith has demonstrated an outstanding capacity for leadership through his involvement in specific, highly effective student initiatives such as Occupy, the 2022 Australasian Student Architecture Congress. Further, his ability to bring his fellow students together for meaningful and productive exchange suggests a strong understanding of the importance of collaboration within the architectural profession.

Smith’s impressive application across a wide spectrum of activities demonstrates a rarely matched commitment to the student membership and the broader profession, and a breadth and depth of intelligence. His relaxed, friendly character brings people together while his articulateness enables him to communicate the task at hand.

This form is now closed.