ACT architecture prizes recognise powerful advocates and emerging talent

Former National President, Life Fellow and spokesperson for the long-running #HandsOffAnzacHall campaign, Clare Cousins LFRAIA, has been awarded this year’s President’s Medal, the highest honour bestowed on an individual by the ACT Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.

ACT Chapter President and National President-elect Shannon Battisson said the medal recognises Ms Cousins’ staunch advocacy on behalf of the Institute’s members and the profession generally in defence of the value of architecture.

“Clare Cousins is an architect of the highest standing,” Ms Battisson said.

“Clare has dedicated her career to highly considered architecture across a wide range of disciplines, and has contributed significant time, energy and experience to the advancement of the profession as a whole and community discussion of architecture.

“As spokesperson for the #HandsOffAnzacHall campaign, Clare has led a public interest campaign to fight for a building of not just national significance, but one of immense importance to the fabric of our city, Canberra.

“Clare has upheld the highest possible standard of professionalism throughout the three years of the campaign, collaborated with other key interest groups, and importantly explained to the community through extensive media and social media outreach why buildings such as Anzac Hall matter.”

Recognising the next generation of emerging architectural leaders and talent, five other prizes were also awarded at a special celebration tonight.

Principal of the Architecture team at SQC Architecture, Remco Alexander (Sander) de Vries, has been awarded the 2021 ACT Emerging Architect Prize. The Jury noted that Sander “has shown outstanding leadership across a broad range of projects in the form of human resourcing, marketing strategy, and team growth project acquisition; while promoting professional development among his staff and acting as a mentor to younger team members.”

The Jury also recognised Sander’s “enthusiastic and active engagement with the Institute” as a six-term ACT chapter councillor.

“Aptly self-described as ‘the oil between the parts’, Sander’s commitment to delivering frank collaboration and meaningful change for the profession both nationally and locally is to be enthusiastically commended,” said Jury Chair Shannon Battisson.

Celebrating an ACT Architect who has demonstrated exemplary skills in the practice of architecture, Ajanthan (AJ) Bala, RAIA of DNA Architects received this year’s Architecture Professional Practitioner Award lauded by the Jury as “a true all-rounder as an architect.”

“AJ has strong leadership credentials and a highly developed business acumen including sophisticated marketing skills and an understanding of the commercial imperative. These are complemented by his professionalism as an architect including a respected design sensibility balanced with a clear commitment to considered, fit-for-purpose documentation and an active involvement in construction to realise the full potential of DNA’s buildings.”

The ACT’s highest-performing architecture students were recognised for excellence across various levels of study.

Chloe Yin and James Sekoranja were jointly awarded the 2020 ACT Chapter Student Medallion for attaining the highest grade point average over the five years of architectural education at the University of Canberra.

James Sekoranja also received the 2020 Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Graduate Prize, for attaining the highest grade point average over the two years of the Master of Architecture course at the University of Canberra.

Matt Runko was awarded the 2020 John Redmond Prize, for the highest achievement during the first three years of architectural studies at the University of Canberra.

“On behalf of the ACT Chapter, I offer our warm congratulations to each of this year’s prize recipients,” Ms Battisson said.

“Our award winners represent the next generation of architectural excellence that will further the significant value our profession delivers to creating a better, more liveable, more sustainable and healthier built environment.

“We applaud your efforts and look forward to the contributions you will make to shaping the lives and lived experiences of Canberrans throughout the course of your careers.”