From the ACT Chapter President

It was great to see so many at our Christmas party where we met old friends, those we’ve worked with or whose work we particularly admire. As Roger Pegrum once said to me, we architects don’t meet with each other nearly as often as we should.

We have had an ambitious program this year delivering 37 events which is nearly 1 a week. We’ve also appeared in front of the Assembly Inquiry into Building Quality and made submissions on the Government’s 10 year Infrastructure Plan, City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, Minimum Documentation Guidelines for BA approval applications and more. We’ve got a particularly exciting announcement to kick the New Year off and also celebrate the Institute’s 90th Birthday, so stay tuned! If this comes off, it will be a feather in our collective hats and a real coup for the ACT Chapter.

One of the more challenging activities that has propelled me into the spotlight has been the proposal to demolish Anzac Hall by the Australian War Memorial. While a national matter, the ACT Chapter has mounted frontline opposition to this project and will continue to do so. When I accepted the invitation to take on the presidency, this sort of activism was not definitely not anticipated and to find myself meeting the AWM Director and speaking on radio to refute some of the more extreme pronouncements as to why the building is no longer fit-for-purpose was quite a surprise. More so that I felt quite comfortable in the role.

I make these observations as encouragement to others to get involved in the Institute. As President, I have had the privilege of meeting with National Council through the year and witness first-hand just how dedicated your fellow members are to the advancement of architecture and the Institute. I have also seen how our new CEO Julia Cambage and her team and the Board are working hard to lift the profile of architects and architecture around the country. They have been busy developing policies on best practice procurement methods, management of competitions, development of a new and dynamic website and much more. There is also an ambition to find ways of reducing yearly subscriptions and providing a greater sense of what it means to be a member so I encourage you to take the time to read the frequent e-news communiques for more details.

I occasionally hear the refrain “what do I get out of being a member?” Well, for a start, our events and awards program, many of which are supported by generous sponsors. Your president, councillors and other members have been actively advocating for improvements in DA approval times, better documenting standards, and better planning outcomes for our city. Much of this happens through regular meetings with the planning minister and attendance at planning forums and collaboration with other industry organisations. Above all this happens through the work of our ED and staff together with members who are always looking for new opportunities to advance the profession in the public interest.

I would like to thank the outgoing Councillors for their regular attendance at our monthly meetings and contribution to committees they sit on. Welcome also to new Councillors John Guida and Sarah Lebner and congratulations to re-elected Councillors Jane Cassidy, Shoba Cole and John Ting. Special thanks to Shannon Battisson who very bravely nominated for and was elected as ACT President. As noted above, the President’s role has its challenges.  I have pledged my support to Shannon in her transition into this role, particularly in the first few months when I found myself quite overwhelmed.  

My congratulations to Rob Henry and Nathan Judd for becoming Fellows of the Institute, not just for being long-term members but whose outstanding and ongoing contribution to the architecture profession is worthy of this distinction. 

On a Chapter note, I thank Liz Lang and Alex Tupper. We farewell Courtney Thoo and welcome back Francesca Cooper.

Wishing you a happy festive season

Philip Leeson