From the National President – December 2012

Earlier this month, National Council met at the Institute’s Canberra offices. Over the course of two days, many issues were discussed, debated and resolved.

Among the topics was the Member Consultation Policy which has now been endorsed by National Council. The Policy’s purpose is to establish a set of principles and guidelines for the Institute that will enable members, Council and management to have certainty about the appropriate level, nature and purpose of member consultation in a range of circumstances. Details of how you can access this Policy will be circulated to you shortly.

Other important decisions included the opening up of the Emerging Architects Prize to allow collaborations and non-member architects to apply. This reflects our desire to acknowledge diversity in practice and to be more inclusive in how we recognise and welcome emerging architects and their practice. Other areas to note are the commencement of thinking on a new fee guide to assist members, and agreement to look at the governance framework and structure associated with our numerous committees, with the aim of ensuring the enormous amount of work committee members do is effectively linked with our strategic objectives, while also being able to inform those objectives. It was an intense two days with plenty of robust discussion and where much was achieved.

The festive season and summer break are fast approaching, and this is an opportunity to reflect on the past year, and forward to 2013. This year we have continued to contribute to policy development and advocacy to government through our membership in several key industry stakeholder groups such as ASBEC; and through co-hosting BEMP (Built Environment Meets Parliament) again. We continue to make submissions in response to relevant federal policy issues, and their quality has earned us respect, and has influenced decisions affecting architects.

We’ve also advanced the way we work and what we provide to members – refining requirements to suit our diverse member base; making the Institute more accessible to students through SONA and reduced fees; building our relationship with emerging architects through EmAGN; refining numerous policies such as our awards policy; and developing clearer guidance and information in areas including general governance, equity and diversity, and consultation.

We also delivered numerous member programs, seminars, lectures, exhibitions, competitions and events including the National Conference in Brisbane which was a huge success, as were the state and territory awards culminating in the 2012 National Architecture Awards, held for the first time in 31 years in Perth. All of these major events are examples of our commitment to connecting and engaging with members throughout the country.

In 2013, the International Speaker Series kicks off the events calendar in February and profiles the influential Swiss architect, Valerio Olgiati. The 2013 Australian Achievements in Architecture Awards (AAAAs) will take place in Canberra in March. This series of awards allows us to acknowledge many of the people who make significant contributions to architecture and the built environment in a range of ways, and is different from the National Awards in that it acknowledges people rather than places. This is also the time when the 2013 Gold Medallist will be revealed, and it marks the commencement of their lecture tour of Australia. The location is relevant as 2013 is the Centenary of Canberra, a place we should all be proud of as a globally recognised, architect-planned city. The announcement of the CAPITheticAL prize winners at the curated exhibition of CAPITheticAL entries takes place in March also in Canberra, at the Gallery of Australian Design (GAD); and our National Conference – themed ‘material’ – will be held from 30 May to 1 June in Melbourne. We are also delighted to announce that the 2014 conference will be held in Perth.

2012 has been a challenging year for many members, with the economic downturn having a big impact on architects, as well as on our friends and colleagues in the broader community. As a member organisation, all I can say is that we’re with you, because we are all feeling it, in one way or another, and are acutely conscious that this is a difficult time.

For the Institute, we have tightened our collective belt in 2012 and have improved efficiency in many areas while being careful not to diminish members’ services. 2013 will be a year for prudence and also cautious optimism. With sustainability continuing to be a huge issue and with enormous scope for improvement within the built environment, our focus on advocacy and encouraging good practice will be maintained.

I look forward to the year ahead, and I wish you all a successful and inspiring 2013.

Shelley Penn