Upon reflection, 2020 was – and continues to be – a year that has challenged us all on so many levels; it has challenged governments, decision makers, health services and the community alike, especially as we have all collectively grappled with how to keep ourselves, our families and each other safe in an extraordinary global pandemic. If any profession was able to adapt and be agile in such a situation, it is yours. This is not just because of the nature of the profession, but because of the resolve, creativity and integrity of our members. A profession that time and time again puts social and community interests before their own, and is able, through the very nature of your education, to adapt to changing briefs and situations. Times during the year have been very tough for many, but all have shown a resolve and care for one another and the community as a whole that is absolutely commendable, and I am personally very proud to work with you all.

I have had the privilege to work with Samantha Cotterell as Chapter Chair and I have been struck by her passion for architecture and the profession, and impressed by the way she champions the International membership through her efforts to keep you connected, to tell your stories and to help you whilst you work overseas, all while giving you a strong connection back to Australia. It has been a honour and a wonderful experience, and I thank her for her leadership. To the International Chapter Council, it has been delightful to work with you, and my team look forward to working with you in 2021.

There have been highs and lows in 2020 – it would not do the experience justice just to talk about the highs, as it is the lows that offer the most enduring lessons: from assisting members with complex and sometimes devastating situations and trying to maintain a sense of normality by continuing to deliver the architecture awards and programs, albeit in often new and experimental ways. The trust and generosity that you have all show has been amazing and we have been honoured to serve you all and the profession at this time. To my team, your compassion and commitment to architecture is astounding and I thank you all for your hard work, for the positive culture and community you help create, and for your dedication to the profession.

There have been numerous highs, including international architecture by Australian architects and International Chapter members being recognised in numerous awards; Samantha Cotterell, Julie Eizenberg and Janine Campbell being named Fellows of the Institute; and Justin Hill, Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg being named Life Fellows of the Institute.

So in a year when qualities such as agility and compassion were integral, I have seen the membership work toward facing the challenges with a considered yet creative resolve. Thank you all for you contribution to the profession and to society and I look forward to further developing programs and the membership in 2021.

The office will be closed from Wednesday 23 December, and will reopen on Monday 11 January 2021. I will be working remotely from 4 January 2021. To all of you, I wish you a safe and happy holiday.


Jennifer Nichols

Executive Director, International Chapter
Australian Institute of Architects