From the National President – May 2013

Shelley Penn
Shelley Penn, Immediate Past President

At the end of April, a new publication was launched and along with it, a significant announcement was made. In partnership with the Australia Council, the Institute co-published Australia’s Pavilion in Venice, which celebrates the history of the pavilion and the shortlisted designs in the redevelopment project that is now underway. This book contributes to Australia’s contemporary commentary on architecture, while also honouring the contribution the existing pavilion has made to the exhibition of Australian arts and architecture overseas. I was very pleased to participate in the Melbourne launch event, and alongside Australia Council chair Rupert Myer AM, to acknowledge the important role of the pavilion’s exhibitions for Australian culture and cultural memory.

At the launch, Simon Mordant announced that he was contributing $2m to the funding pool (bringing the total to the $6m needed for the construction of the project). As the Australian Commissioner for the 2013 and 2015 Venice Art Biennales, Simon has led the fundraising effort for both of these events, and will take an active interest in the pavilion, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, as it develops.

May is conference month. A year and a half in the planning, and Material is almost upon us. If you haven’t yet registered, read the article here for just a few more reasons not to miss this fantastic event.

For me, the conference will also be a significant moment as it coincides with the end of my term as National President.

Over the past year I’ve been privileged to get to know and to work with many people through the Institute. These include members, staff, sponsors, colleagues from other organisations and architects from around the world.

In taking this role on, I said I’d like to achieve a few things: among them, I promised to work towards improving Institute communications. We now have a Member Consultation Policy, which is clear and comprehensive and we’re working on a communications strategy to help us better connect with members and the broader community.

Very soon, we will launch our new website, which will improve access to information for members and others. I know many of you have been waiting for, and will be interested in, this important step. The launch is scheduled for mid-June, so watch this space.

Despite advancements like these, there’s still plenty to do, not because the Institute is failing, but the opposite – we’re doing well and there will always be room to do better. And as times change, so do the issues, needs and priorities affecting members. Since joining National Council in 2009, I’ve been highly impressed by the Institute – what we achieve through the work of our staff and through the enormous contribution of members, in what I see as a true partnership. If you feel things could be better, then get involved – stand for Chapter or National Council, join the work of your chapter, or simply vote in the annual elections. Of the thousands of eligible members, typically less than a thousand vote.

At the end of this month, I will pass the baton to National President Elect, Paul Berkemeier. I wish Paul a wonderful term in the year ahead, and I look forward to working closely with him, and supporting his efforts, in my capacity as Immediate Past President.

I’ve been privileged to work with National Council, and the staff of the Institute who have been extremely professional and supportive at all times. I most sincerely thank and commend my fellow councillors, David Parken and Institute staff, members and our corporate partners for their support during my tenure.

Shelley Penn