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.

Shamus Mulcahy and Jennifer Nichols | Tas Chapter Christmas Party 2020 | Photographer: Nina Hamilton

Over the past two years I have had the privilege to work with Shamus Mulcahy as Tasmanian Chapter President, and I have been struck by his care for others, and his humility. He has quietly gone about the business of being a leader and has advocated for the value of architecture to society tirelessly. His gentle resolve and calm approach have been wonderful to work alongside and I would like to thank him for his guidance and leadership. I have learnt many a lesson from him, but I think the most impressive is the level head that he brings to every issue or situation he approaches – and a little bit of humour. This, coupled with his modest humility, has made him a fitting leader and these traits are the cornerstones of his character and behaviour. I have learnt much from him, and for that I will be always be grateful.

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 countless submissions, round tables, surveys, and forums, to assisting members with complex and sometimes devastating situations. All the while, trying to maintain a sense of normality by continuing to deliver the architecture awards, CPD and Open House Hobart, albeit in often new and experimental ways. The trust and generosity that you have all shown has been amazing, and we have been honoured to serve you all and the profession at this time. To Katie, Fiona, Lara and Mike, I am eternally grateful for your hard work and the skill you bring to your roles; I am also impressed by your willingness to help each other, the whole organisation, the membership and the community. Your compassion and commitment to architecture is astounding and I thank you all for you hard work, for the positive culture and community you help create, and for your dedication to the profession.

There have been numerous highs, including Tasmanian architecture and architects excelling in the National Architecture Awards. There was a Commendation for Commerical Architecture – Three Capes Track Lodges by Andrew Burns Architecture, a Commendation for Urban Design – Bridge of Remembrance by Denton Corker Marshall, and then the joint Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage – Bozen’s Cottage by Taylor & Hinds Architects & Hollow Tree House by Core Collective Architects. We also saw Tasmanian practices awarded for works outside our state, including a Commendation for Small Project Architecture – Protagonist by Cumulus Studio as well as a Commendation for Public Architecture – Parks Victoria Albert Park Office and Depot by Harrison and White with Archier.

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 this. 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, have a safe and happy holiday.

Jennifer Nichols

Executive Director, Tasmanian Chapter
Australian Institute of Architects