Outgoing president Graham Jahn, is a hard act to follow. His inspiring leadership has energised the RAIA, attracted an unprecedented number of new members, and advanced the profile and standing of the profession in the wider community. My primary focus as President will be on maintaining this moment- um and ensuring our far-reaching new policy action plans are implemented.
It is an exciting time to be taking up the presidency, with the membership palpably affected by a new-found enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the profession.
An example is that, for the second consecutive year, the Pritzker Prize has an Australian flavour. The bestowing of this honour on Architect Jørn Utzon has enthused the RAIA into supporting a push to have the Sydney Opera House declared a World Heritage site as the ultimate tribute to this iconic building.
Much of this confidence is due also to the dynamic two-year term of Graham Jann. He has raised discernibly public awareness of architecture and architects through his public speaking, writing and personal lobbying. And his leadership of the National Council, impec- cable ability as chair – from a platform of four years as chair of the Sydney Planning Panel - attention to detail and almost superhuman capacity to deal with multiple activities have raised the bar of performance. On behalf of the profession I wish to formally thank him for his efforts, and I will greatly value his counsel as he continues to contribute in the role of Immediate Past President.
Over the past two years we have established a clear set of policies aimed at ensuring the ongoing value to members of the RAIA and the future of the profession. National Council has unanimously endorsed two key planks of our strategic plan - the Membership Action Plan and Communications Action Plan - and their implementation will continue to be a priority for the next 12 months and beyond.
A third component is the development of a Political Action Plan which will have an outward-looking focus. The major issues of the Architects Acts, Professional Indemnity Insurance and Professional Standards Legislation will also continue to occupy much of the RAIA resources.
I am particularly encouraged by our success in getting Commonwealth and State government support for the Year of the Built Environment concept for 2004. The RAIA is working with industry partners and government departments to co-ordinate a national series of activities which will engage the community in debate, discussion, appreciation and celebration of the built environment.
In 2004 the RAIA will also be celebrating 75 years as a national organisation, which will be interwoven with the program.
In May we get to immerse ourselves in the full-on program constructed for the RAIA National Conference by Creative Director Ian Moore. “Imagining Architecture” has clearly struck a chord with members and potential members, and I look forward to being inspired, refreshed and challenged by the high-calibre panel of international and Australian speakers assembled for the Sydney conference. The student competition and master classes, together with John Choi’s sprawling void as a backdrop, will also help make the event accessible and relevant to as many members as possible.
On the issue of access and equity, later this year the RAIA will launch our Level 2 Architect membership class which the Council believes will make the RAIA more accessible and affordable to architects employed in the industry who are not principals or partners in a practice.
Our confidence is supported by the latest membership statistics that show we have some 300 more members than at the same time last year – the biggest increase in a decade. Recognition is due here to SONA President Alisa Ward and her team who undertook a successful multi-state membership drive.
I urge members to get involved in your RAIA and make it a positive, dynamic and responsive organisation that will help secure a vibrant future for architects and architecture.
David Parken FRAIA
RAIA National President