Australian Institute of Architects awards 2020 National Prizes

The Australian Institute of Architects is today recognising the outstanding efforts of both architectural practitioners and advocates for the profession with the awarding of its 2020 National Prizes.

The Institute’s most prestigious honour, the Gold Medal, is this year being awarded to the man known as the ‘architect’s architect’, Mr John Wardle. The jury described John as a most worthy candidate for this highest accolade, a man who, “across the nation … has restored faith in what architects do best – the design of buildings that function well and please hand and eye.”

John’s craft is recognisable right around the country on projects of varying scale, from single family homes such as the Kitamura house in Kew to large-scale institutional and commercial buildings such as the Queensland Brain Institute (2004-2007) in Brisbane, or the Jane Foss Russell Building in Sydney (2009). The jury notes that these and John’s other projects “exemplify the national impact of Wardle’s personal project of raising the public status of architectural design.”

From his Melbourne-based studio founded in 1986, the jury described John as having created a practice “of national stature and international repute; a practice where design excellence takes the prime position in every single project and at every scale.” His practice has won numerous state Institute awards for architectural excellence in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland as well as at the national level. This peer recognition “reinforces the view of John Wardle as an architect whose contribution to the development of Australian architecture has been distinguished and substantial.”

The ongoing advocacy and achievements of the City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore have been celebrated with the awarding of the 2020 President’s Prize. Applauded as a “vocal advocate of quality architecture, progressive policies and ambitious action on climate change”, National President Professor Helen Lochhead said Councillor Moore’s “vision and leadership over 30 years, has systematically transformed the City of Sydney into one of our most liveable cities.” Councillor Moore is Sydney’s longest-serving Lord Mayor, who Professor Lochhead said understands, appreciates and champions the intrinsic value of architecture. “Under her leadership, the City of Sydney has developed a global reputation, delivering award-winning buildings, open spaces and transport infrastructure, instituting design excellence as public policy, supporting creative industries and initiating progressive solutions to complex social and environmental challenges,” Professor Lochhead said.

As an educator, advocate, practising architect, executive director, media commentator and project manager this year’s 2020 Leadership in Sustainability Prize winner Stephen Choi wears many hats, but his passion for sustainable design is the constant underpinning his diverse career. Recognised by the jury for his “ability to take the principles to practice”, they commended Stephen for his long-term advocacy and engagement “to enable delivery of change within sustainability across multiple areas of the value chain.” Stephen is currently Executive Director of Living Future Institute of Australia and the Living Building Challenge Manager for Fraser’s Brickworks which is aiming to be the world’s most sustainable shopping centre, and first to achieve the Living Building Challenge™.

Parlour – a driving force behind national, and increasingly international, change in policy, structure and attitudes towards women in architecture – is the recipient of this year’s Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize. Their work combines research, education, advocacy and engagement leading the jury to describe Parlour as “synonymous with gender equity in architecture”. The jury commended “Parlour’s compelling and wide-reaching projects [that] work to transform architecture into a more equitable and robust profession demonstrating outstanding leadership.”

The 2020 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture has been awarded to University of Adelaide architecture student Chantelle Fry for her proven leadership and commitment to fostering student engagement, while showcasing their work to the wider architectural community. Described by the jury as a “passionate advocate for her fellow students” they commended her for her openness, integrity and genuineness.

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