From the National President – April 2013

Last month I attended the Institute’s Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards ceremony at the newly opened National Arboretum, in Canberra. The venue, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, is outstanding, with a magnificent view overlooking the lake and city. It was a fitting location in which to celebrate and honour the accomplishments of a group of individuals who have made a significant contribution to society through their endeavours focused on architecture and the built environment.

Among the many highlights of the evening for me, was the presentation of the President’s Prize to Louise Cox, AM, an architect I hold in very high esteem. Louise was recognised for her tenacious and far-reaching work in service to the profession over her long career, and for her outstanding contribution and sustained commitment to architecture and the promotion of its value to the wider community here and overseas.

The Gold Medal for Architecture, the highest honour the Institute can bestow, was awarded to Muenster-based Australian architect, Peter Wilson in recognition of his outstanding services to the profession, in particular his execution of a body of exceptional architectural works with his partner Julia Bolles, and for his long-standing contribution to research and architectural theory.

It was also fabulous to witness the awarding of the Emerging Architect Prize to Clare Cousins, the recognition of the Dulux Study Tour recipients Adam Pustola, Amy Muir, Luke Pendergast, Mel Bright and Sean Humphries, and the awarding of important honours to people from in and outside the profession who have contributed much to architecture.  For all of the winners, see here.

Congratulations again to all of the AAAA award and prize recipients.

The first National Council meeting of the year was held last month in Canberra to coincide with the AAAAs and I was delighted to welcome the Council’s new Directors attending a National Council meeting for their first time. National Council welcomed four new Chapter Presidents: Joe Agius, NSW; Simon Scally, NT; Andrew Williamson, TAS and Steve Grieve, SA.   David Karotkin returned this year for a second term as WA Chapter President and was elected by National Council as the incoming President Elect. He will be inaugurated in this role at the Institute’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 May, when Paul Berkemeier will succeed me in the role of National President.

In addition to the new Chapter Presidents, we also welcomed two newly elected National Councillors, Helen Lochhead, NSW, Director Strategic Developments at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Peter Malatt, VIC, Director at Six Degrees in Melbourne, who will both serve for a two year term. We were also very pleased to welcome Barnaby Hartford-Davis who has commenced his term as the SONA President for 2013 and joins Council as the student representative.

While on the topic of Council changes, agreement was reached at the meeting to both formalise the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN) as an Institute committee, and to take a motion to the AGM for the creation of an Emerging Professional position on National and Chapter Councils. It is so important that the Institute embraces and gains the benefit of the involvement of emerging and young professionals and I encourage members to consider this proposal and submit their vote on this matter at the forthcoming AGM.

In addition to the meeting, National Council also held a half day workshop to discuss the Institute’s committees. National Council recognises that our committee structure is one of the key opportunities our members have to initiate, engage in, and help shape the Institute’s activities and we value the immense voluntary contribution that our committee members make. However, it is prudent to review the effectiveness of our committee structure from time to time to ensure those efforts can be meaningfully developed and that Institute resources are aligned. The workshop was focused on identifying issues and room for improvement. A number of issues – both positive and negative – were identified, and it was agreed that a small working group of National Councillors would be established to progress the proposed workshop outcomes. We will continue to provide more details as the working group delivers on this matter and consult with members in accordance with our new consultation policy.  I am confident that the working group’s activity will lead to more effective governance of the committee structure which will benefit the Institute’s membership as a whole.

Finally and most importantly the National Architecture Conference – Material – is on in late May, and there’s about a week until the Early Bird bookings close.  For those of you who haven’t registered yet, I encourage you to attend.  I expect it to be thought-provoking, inspiring and fun – a highlight in the professional calendar, and an opportunity to recharge your mental batteries.

The full program of sessions is now available online – and the fringe events are locked in. Read here for a selection of these.

Shelley Penn