I am writing my first column to you in a hotel room in New Zealand after attending the general assembly session of the Commonwealth Association of Architects.
What this session has brought home to me is how similar the issues are surrounding the practice of architecture all around the world. It has reinforced for me the universality of the architectural experience and how necessary it is for the RAIA to involve itself in international affairs in order to understand how others in the world are facing and solving issues similar to our own. It is also pleasant to realise that in some areas Australia is ahead and thus can provide assistance to other countries in those circumstances. It is all about engagement and sharing.
I am in NZ with Nigel Shaw and Graham Humphries, the two past presidents of the RAIA. I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to lead the RAIA this year particularly given the outstanding service and great leadership that Nigel and Graharn have provided the organisation during their terms of office.
I recently heard an aphorism that perhaps applies to anyone seeking office in the RAIA and it goes as follows: "we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we drink from wells we did not dig."
This is particularly true in my circumstances given the strength of recent leadership. The RAIA benefits from furthering the work of previous leaders rather than starting each year from scratch. As Nigel has discovered, the presidential year passes very quickly!
As many of you would know, I have taken office with a list of items that I would like to see achieved. The action items of visions and values have previously been circulated in RAIA’s national newsletter Memo. This list was borne out of discussions by members of the last two RAIA Executives including past presidents, as well as your feedback through our membership surveys. It thus represents a process that while ensuring continuity of thought still allows a new president to present to the council (and thus the membership) a manifesto for what will be achieved in the ensuing year, and a direction.
The surveys tell us that you want a higher profile of the profession in the community, as well as better representation to governments and the upkeep of professional standards. Our program this year revolves around these items and you can be assured that I will be working hard to fulfil these tasks that I have set.
But you must help me do this. To return to my first theme of sharing, one of the great benefits of membership is the opportunity created by our coming together. This year’s is shaping up to be one of the best ever and we have set the scene by providing an exciting lineup of speakers, events and entertainment. However the most critical ingredient is you, and it will be your presence that will create the magic that happens when architects get together and share things with each other for the betterment of the built environment and themselves.
And there you can then tell me personally how well we are doing as an Institute of Architects.
See you in Sydney