Brian Zulaika's introduction to the March 2012 issue of Architecture Australia.

Brian Zulaikha.

Brian Zulaikha.

The 2012 Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards (AAAA) were held on 21 March at the Adelaide Zoo.

Among the awards presented was the highest honour the Australian Institute of Architects can bestow – the Gold Medal for Architecture.

This year, the Gold Medal was awarded to Lawrence Nield, who has made an outstanding contribution to architecture for over forty-five years. His career combines a prolific and continued output of significant architecture and urban design projects, services to the Institute and academic and teaching achievements, including a distinguished list of writings and publications.

Lawrence’s broad and principled approach to architecture reveals an uncommon understanding of our history, the arts and other intellectual achievements, and his projects draw on a diverse range of architectural interests and studies.

His stated aspiration is that architecture provide support and background for cultural and social activity, maintaining that “without meaning and recognition architecture is just a commodity.” Lawrence argues for environmental leadership in architecture and has shown true leadership through his consistent and passionate advocacy for this humanist role in the profession.

As bearer of the Gold Medal, Lawrence has been presented with the opportunity to travel around Australia and meet with a diverse range of architects, graduates and students – a grand tour that culminates at the end of this year with the delivery of the A. S. Hook Memorial Address. Congratulations, Lawrence!

The awards also saw the presentation of the National President’s Prize, which recognizes and celebrates the exemplary contribution of an individual to the advancement of architecture, and is typically awarded to those working outside the traditional areas of design, practice and education.

This year, it was a great privilege for me to be able to present the prize to Lucy Turnbull, certainly in recognition of the contribution she has made to the Institute, but also to architecture and design more generally.

There is no question that Lucy has been a powerful advocate for the profession. She has had a long-standing interest in the role cities play, and in architecture and design. In 1999 she published the book Sydney: Biography of a City (Random House: Sydney). She is deputy chair of The Committee for Sydney, and in 2006 and 2008 was the commissioner of the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Lucy is a board member of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and of the Australian Technology Park. In June 2010 she was appointed to the Cities Expert Advisory Panel, which reports to the COAG Reform Council on metropolitan strategic planning issues. She is also an independent member of the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority.

Of course, this issue of Architecture Australia provides comprehensive coverage of the awards, so I won’t go into too much more detail, but congratulations to all of the recipients.

The number of Institute members under the age of forty continues to grow apace and, including students, currently accounts for over 40 percent of the total membership.

If you fall into this demographic – or even if you don’t – there are many opportunities to broaden your engagement with the Institute. I urge you to contact your chapters, and to get involved with committees, EmAGN, Architecture Week, the National Conference and other Institute events to maximize your membership and ensure your concerns and passions, as well as those of your colleagues, are being heard and addressed.

Also vital is a re-examination of equity and diversity in the profession. The next issue of Architecture Australia will include information about the Institute’s position on gender equity in architecture. At its meeting in October 2009, following a presentation by Naomi Stead, Justine Clark and Julie Willis, the Institute’s National Council agreed to support the equity principles enshrined in the research project “Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership.” This project examines employment issues particular to women in architecture, notably barriers to the retention and advancement of women to senior management levels. Other industry partners include Architecture Media, Bates Smart, Bligh Voller Nield and PTW Architects.

Brian Zulaikha, National President of the Australian Institute of Architects



Published online: 20 Mar 2012
Words: Brian Zulaikha


Architecture Australia, March 2012

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