From the National President

Richard Kirk

National President, Richard Kirk. Photo by Toby Scott
Nov 2017 

Last Thursday’s National Architecture Awards ceremony in Canberra was a fantastic culmination of the 2017 Awards program.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my role as President was the opportunity to attend many of the state and territory Awards functions around the country earlier in the year.  This provided a rare insight into the diversity of work from around the country and internationally that demonstrates the versatility and depth of the architectural profession.  

Observing how architects can make a great impact within the community and where positive legacies are left that well exceed the boundaries of the site and limits of the brief, has been a reaffirmation of the potency of architecture when deployed with skill and dedication.

In recognising design excellence through the Awards program we are also acknowledging the essential role of passionate and supportive clients who are very much a part of the recognition of the awards received throughout the program.

I congratulate all the entrants and their clients for their contribution to the quality of the work honoured last week and earlier in the year.

On behalf of the Institute I would like to thank the National Jury led by Ken Maher for their incredible contribution in time and intellect to the challenge of visiting all of the 72 strong shortlist over a two week period from as far as the Daintree to the Pilbara.  

I would also like to thank the Institute staff for their tireless efforts in producing such a successful Awards program, over twelve months in the making.

Read all about the 2017 National Award winners here.


Although the Awards program is one of most visible advocacy programs, it is certainly not the only significant undertaking of the Institute in furthering the cause of the profession and supporting our members.

I often refer to the iceberg analogy where much of the work we do is hidden from view. A lot of work happens behind the scenes – and it is critical work in a profession so closely impacted by State and National legislation.

Over any year our Chapter and National Committees produce numerous submissions and undertake media programs to ensure government policies and programs are well informed and have a focus on the public interest when it comes to articulating the importance of making our cities and towns equitable and sustainable.

Through our new National Policy Committee the Institute’s policies are being refreshed and will expand on the work already completed in 2017 including our new Multi-residential Standards Policy, Work Experience and Internships Policy  and our submissions to the Finkel Review and Senate Enquiry into non-conforming building products.
In addition to these, each of the local Chapters have prepared their own submissions in the last year covering diverse planning and procurement issues.

Although the message is a dry one, I wanted to use this opportunity to convey the importance of this work as a part of our complete advocacy agenda for the profession and that it is produced with the assistance of your fellow members on a voluntary basis.

The Institute will shortly be launching our new three-year Strategic Plan, an extension of the hard work already undertaken over our recent journey of renewal and transformation.  

The Institute is now more focused on delivering the professional leadership and services that prioritise your needs as practitioners. To that end we will need a much greater engagement and involvement from our members to ensure we are an essential partner in your practices and careers.

To continue the transformation, we need greater support and more resources. There is an opportunity for the Institute membership to grow substantially – whilst we have great engagement with the smaller practices– it is generally the larger practices (which employ the largest segment of the profession) that participate the least in the Institute.

In essence, we have set the Institute on a trajectory of reform and capacity building, with the members and the profession as its focus – we think it is timely for our largest stakeholders to reconnect and re-engage to help us continue our great legacy as an important institution.

The Institute is one of the oldest institutions within the Country.  This year for example, the Victorian Chapter celebrated 161 years, Queensland 129 years and NSW 146 years.  It is this longevity that brings clarity to us that the Institute is a worthwhile legacy and the Board, together with the National Council, have been focused on how to guarantee the Institute is well managed to ensure we are able to plan well into the future.

I personally look forward to building with you an Institute that is a strong voice for architecture and an Institute that makes a stronger profession for architects.  

Richard Kirk
National President