Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medallists

2012 Gold Medallist - Lawrence Nield

Lawrence Nield 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 Australian Institute of Architects, academic and teaching achievements, including a distinguished list of writings and publications.

Lawrence graduated with honours from the University of Sydney in 1963 and completed a Masters Degree at Cambridge in 1968 under the tutelage of Sir Leslie Martin and Joseph Rykwert. His thesis on the topic of "Greek Temple Superstructure" developed his strong understanding of typology and classicism. The influence of Colin St. John Wilson (also at Cambridge) combined with a strong commitment to modernism have defined an approach to design as a framework for human activity and occupation, wherein the consequence and 'substance of architecture is more important than form'.

His 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. He has undertaken commissions in eight countries and his works are formed by the uniqueness of each project with its context, function and occupation, and demonstrate his conviction that the architectural solution must 'strengthen and sustain culture'. He is an active critic for better cities, with a major interest in the 'global phenomena of the tall building and its adaption to the Asia-Pacific context'. He recently completed his involvement as master planner for Victoria Harbour in Melbourne's Docklands.

On his return to Australia, Lawrence worked with McConnel Smith and Johnson until 1975 when he established the practice Lawrence Nield + Partners, and in 1997 became a founding principal of Bligh Voller Nield. These practices have produced challenging work that explores new concepts and they consistently received RAIA state and national awards that evidence his ability as a designer and as a strategic leader or facilitator in creating works of the highest standard. He continues to practice as Studio Nield with his wife Andrea who he supported in establishing Emergency Architects Australia in 2005. Lawrence also served as President of the NSW Chapter Council from 1986-88 and played a key role in establishing the Chapter at Tusculum.

After graduation from Cambridge he worked in London with Yorke, Rosenberg, Mardall, an experience that led to his interest in hospital design. He believes that hospitals should be 'temples of care', and his early work in hospital planning was both visionary and pragmatic, as with the Mt Druitt Hospital, 1982, and his innovative designs have been highly influential in the development of health planning in Australia and Asia, notably Hong Kong where he has been engaged in major studies for health facilities.

Lawrence also has contributed widely to design and strategies for sports playing facilities, having been appointed in 1994 Head of Masterplanning for the Sydney Olympic Games, and through his involvement in numerous international projects including the planning of four Olympic Games sites. Throughout his career he has also provided leadership with the design of educational facilities through the design of numerous important university buildings since the pioneering David Madison Clinical Sciences Block, School of Medicine, University of Newcastle, in 1981.

Amongst the many awarded projects, Lawrence received the 1988 RAIA National Civic Design Award (in association with NSW Government Architect) for the Overseas Passenger Terminal Sydney, the 1997 RAIA National Zelman Cowan Award (in association with John Mainwaring Architects) for the University of the Sunshine Coast Library, the 2000 RAIA Sir John Sulman Award for the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, the 2007 RIBA International Award for the L5 Building at the University of NSW (with Andrew Cortese) and the Architectural Society of China, Grand Architectural Creation Award 2009 for the Beijing Olympic Tennis Centre.

Lawrence was Professor of Architecture, University of Sydney, from 1992 to 1996, followed by Adjunct Professorships at UNSW, UTS and the University of Sydney, and at present is Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. Architecture has also benefited from his keen intellect evident in the extensive national and international publication of his works and writings. Among his literary contributions are his joint authorship of Celebrating Chandigarh, 50 years of the Idea, Changing Hospital Design, the founding of the critcal journal Content while at the University of Sydney and his joint authorship of its publication 'Skyplane', his role as a Contributing Editor to the Oxford Companion to Architecture, and his continuing studies concerning the fundamental nature of urban form.

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

2011 Gold Medallist - Graeme Gunn

The Melbourne-based architect is best known as 'being a fighter for better housing for all Australians' and for working consistently to enhance our quality of life by 'improving our housing and urban environments' throughout his 50 year career to date. He is best known for his current role as principal architect for VicUrban, as foundation dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Building at RMIT, and for his early innovative housing work, particularly for Merchant Builders in Melbourne.

In awarding the honour, Mr Fender said the Gold Medal jury firmly believed "At a time when we face enormous challenges around the built environment, Graeme Gunn provides an inspirational example of the engaged architect. He has steadfastly pursued his ambition to demonstrate innovative architecture, while at the same time devoting himself to improving the quality of how we live as well as projecting architecture to a broader group of people than would normally afford it."

The jury citation noted "Graeme Gunn has made an outstanding contribution to architecture in a career spanning more than five decades, one distinguished by three distinct forms of engagement. In each of these he has had a transformative impact. Beginning with his early work in housing, particularly for Merchant Builders; continuing as an innovative educator heading the department and subsequently as foundation dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Building at RMIT; and in his present role as principal architect for VicUrban, Graeme Gunn is an enduring and inspirational advocate for architecture's contributory role in improving our housing and urban environments."

Architecturally, he is best known for his work in Melbourne, but has established a body of work across rural and regional Victorian, the south coast of NSW, Sydney, and Dilli in East Timor. His most recognisable projects are the iconic Plumbers and Gasfitters Union Building in Victoria Street, Melbourne and the Melbourne City Baths; his project housing with Merchant Builders and the Bower House; urban design projects including Melbourne's Prahran Market; cluster housing projects Winter Park in Melbourne's Doncaster and VicUrban at Heathmont. Well known single residences include the Shoebridge House in Doncaster East, the Yencken House in Tathra on the NSW south coast, and the Scroggie/Claire House in South Yarra.

The jury noted "Graeme's housing at Winter Park with the innovative developers David Yencken and John Ridge is an outstanding example of careful design extended into a consideration of the importance of landscape and open space and, ultimately, the presence and feel of a place." It is also one of the best examples of the manner in which Gunn and Merchant Builders "educated and articulated new ideas to the public".

Like many of his generation, Graeme is an advocate of architecture's social mission - he brought a unique authority to this message through his architectural mastery. He demonstrated this in outstanding buildings, including the Richardson House, the Molesworth Street townhouses, the suite of houses for Winter Park and the spectacular Plumbers and Gasfitters Building, with Len Hayball in early recycling projects including the Prahran Market and City Baths, and in recent projects including his deftly handled Carlton Courtyard House.

As a builder's son, Graeme has always been an advocate for the built exemplar over theoretical proposition. Graeme's most recent public role has been as principal architect with VicUrban and, prior to that, as principal design advisor to the Docklands Authority. In his work with VicUrban, he provides strategic design guidance and mentors junior colleagues. As he did with Merchant Builders many years previously, Graeme continues at VicUrban to advocate for strategies that will allow experimental projects to be built and that translate and test ideas in built form.

Born in 1933 in Hamilton in rural Victoria, Graeme studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, leaving to work with legendary architectural practice Grounds Romberg and Boyd from 1960. He established his own practice in 1962, developing a range of innovative residential designs, including the medal-winning Richardson House in Essendon in 1963.

This award sparked an invitation from the Merchant Builders to design a founding range of project houses. With Ellis Stone's bush landscaping, Graeme's brick seconds, stained timbers, and open plans revolutionised the Melbourne speculative house market and enriched the residential language of the time. He went on to design a range of cluster housing developments with the group. All projects were renowned for being both sustainable and integrated into the Australian landscape. His non-residential projects were equally significant, with the Plumbers and Gasfitters Union Building receiving the Victorian Architecture Awards 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture in 2007. Graeme's consistent design prowess has seen him awarded 14 major architecture awards during his career.

From 1972-1982, Graeme changed the course of architecture at RMIT, setting the foundation for the university's now-internationally recognised architectural school. In his role as Dean, he transformed the school's technically based environment to a wider and more socially oriented school. The school became the Faculty of Architecture and Building, with a new breed of design teachers brought into the architectural education system. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Architecture in 1996, and continues as an adjunct professor.

In 2000, Graeme was appointed Principal Design Advisor with the Docklands Authority, which then evolved into his current position as Principle Architect and design advisor to VicUrban. In this capacity, he continues to demonstrate his ongoing commitment to the implementation of the highest standards of urban design. He continues to work as Director of Gunn Dyring Architects, specialising in high quality residential design.

2010 Gold Medallist - Kerry and Lindsay Clare

Kerry and Lindsay Clare, a husband and wife team and directors of Architectus, are highly regarded for their creation of sustainable buildings that reinforce sense of place, community and identity in increasingly pressured urban environments. 

Over the past 31 years, Kerry and Lindsay have amassed a substantial body of work predominantly in Queensland and New South Wales.  One of their most iconic projects to date is the multiple award-winning Gallery of Modern Art (as directors of Architectus) in Brisbane's cultural precinct. 

The couple is widely known for their sub-tropical, low impact, sustainable residential projects across regional Queensland. These houses are typically modest in size, elegant, lightweight structures bathed in natural light and cooled by natural ventilation. The Goetz House and Thrupp and Summers House in particular received national attention when designed in the mid-1980s, forging new ground for environmental design.
In awarding the prize, Ms Dodson said the Gold Medal jury firmly believed Kerry and Lindsay "had made an enormous contribution to the advancement of architecture, and particularly sustainable architecture" during their careers, and were widely recognised for their "strongly held belief that good design and sustainable design were intrinsically linked."

The jury citation noted "Their great body of work demonstrates an appropriate environmental response, developing the concept of efficient low-energy, sustainable solutions decades before legislation made it mandatory."

In its 50th year, and awarded annually since 1960, the Gold Medal is the architectural profession's highest accolade and recognises distinguished service by architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit, or who have produced works of distinction resulting in the advancement of architecture. Recent past recipients include high profile architects such as Richard Johnson, Kerry Hill, Glenn Murcutt, Jorn Utzon, Gregory Burgess, Keith Cottier, Brit Andresen, Peter Corrigan and, in 2009, Ken Maher.

Well-known Australians applauding Kerry and Lindsay's award included the Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh, Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, Queensland Government Architect Philip Follent, NSW Government Architect Peter Mould, Victorian Government Architect Geoffrey London and former Victorian Government Architect John Denton.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said Kerry and Lindsay are "two of Australia's most talented and influential architects". She added: "GoMA embodies the idea that architecture plays an integral role in the healthy functioning of a democracy. In GoMA, we see the notion that physical spaces can shape and influence social structure take on contemporary, and peculiarly antipodean, expression. In Australia's relatively young cities, our cultural and communal self-perception is not pre-formed by centuries-old civic structures. Instead, each major public building that is commissioned and built makes a profound impact on the way in which we perform and perceive ourselves as a society. The redevelopment of the Queensland Cultural Centre, through the Millennium Arts Project, has had a transformative effect on our civic heart, and in particular on the integration of the South Bank precinct into the CBD. The popular appeal of GoMA has played a significant role in this. It is a building that welcomes, enlightens, shelters and nurtures the diverse cross section of society that comes to see the modern and contemporary art on display."

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said "For the past three years, Kerry Clare has been a valuable member of the City of Sydney's Design Advisory Panel chaired by the 2009 Gold Medal winner Ken Maher." She added "It is clear to me that Kerry sees the built environment, and the architecture that shapes it, as deeply interconnected with our climate and landscape. This is a rare skill to bring to the process of city building and I am very honoured to have her as key advisor to the City of Sydney."

Victorian Government Architect Geoffrey London says "From the distant vantage point of the west coast of Australia, Kerry and Lindsay Clare appeared to be the perennial Queensland architects, demonstrating the virtues of that strong local group emerging from the 1960s and onwards: responsive to the particulars of their location, its climate, its ways of life, and its forms of construction, a kind of sub-tropical and antipodean translation of the pragmatic approach of postwar British Modernist architects.  They seemed to draw together the approaches of a number of flanking architects - perhaps it was the force of numbers, the two of them working as a synergetic team, extending tradition with an inventive but practical verve."

Kerry and Lindsay have worked consistently as practitioners since graduating from the Queensland University of Technology in the late 1970s, completing more than 120 projects ranging from public, educational, commercial, attaching housing to single residences. Their projects have won numerous prestigious awards including the 2009 RAIA National Public Architecture Award for the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, the 2008 Queensland Public Architecture Award for the University of Sunshine Coast Chancellery, the 2007 RAIA National Public Architecture Award for GoMA and the RAIA Robin Boyd Award in 1992 and 1995 for the Clare House at Buderim and Hammond Residence respectively.

View the profile of Architectus here on Domain Design.
2009 Gold Medallist - Professor Ken Maher

Professor Ken Maher is credited with shaping Sydney's physical and cultural landscape and with creating some of the city's most iconic public spaces.

Over the past 38 years, Ken Maher of architectural firm, HASSELL, has created a vast range of significant projects in Sydney including the restoration of Luna Park at North Sydney, the North Sydney Olympic Pool, Olympic Park Railway Station at Homebush, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) buildings and the new Epping Chatswood Rail Line. Overseas, he has provided the concepts for an innovative new sustainable city centre in Ningbo, China and leads the design team for the new underground railway station in Singapore. In Melbourne, he is designing a vast new workplace for the ANZ Bank at Docklands.

His projects have won prestigious awards including Institute Merit Awards, the 1988 Canberra Medallion, the 1995 Lachlan Macquarie National Architecture Award, the Sir Zelman Cowen Award in 1998, Sulman Medals in 1998 and 2002, and national Australian Institute of Landscape Architects awards. He has won a number of national and international competitions, is a respected design jury member, a teacher of design currently holding the position of Professor in Architecture at the University of NSW and writes regularly about architecture.
He is known as an advocate for architectural engagement and collaboration, for chairing one of Australia's largest practices, for being a key contributor to half a dozen top state and national urban design committees and for being instrumental in the introduction of the State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) 65 in New South Wales.

In awarding the Gold Medal to Ken Maher, the Australian Institute of Architects' National President, Howard Tanner said that the jury firmly believed Ken had excelled in all areas.  The jury citation noted that "Many architects agitate on public issues, but few can drive change as positively and constructively as Ken Maher. As chair of the NSW Premier's Urban Design Advisory Committee, the complex negotiations he resolved between government and the various stakeholders were impressive. A major outcome was SEPP 65, which requires the involvement of an architect for larger, denser residential projects and ensures measurable design and environmental outcomes."

Examples of Ken Maher's work:

NSW: North Sydney Olympic Pool; Olympic Park Railway Station; National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA); Chifley Square and Cafe; Fox Studios Car Park; Liverpool/Parramatta Transit ways; Deutsche Bank Place (with Foster and Partners); Victoria Park Public Domain, Zetland; Cooks Cove Master Plan, Sydney; Sustainable Sydney 2030 Strategy Demonstration Project, Office Building, 2 Fitzwilliam Street, Parramatta; Westpac Place Headquarters Fit-out, Sydney; Epping Chatswood Rail Line; Parramatta Civic Place, Sydney.

ACT: Bruce Psychiatric Hospital, Canberra Playhouse Theatre.

SA: Riverbank Precinct Master Plan; Port Adelaide Centre Vision and Urban Design Framework, Riverbank Promenade Shade Structures, Adelaide University Master Planning, Port Adelaide Centre Vision and Urban Design Framework.

VICTORIA: ANZ Headquarters, Docklands.

QUEENSLAND: Kelvin Grove Urban Village, Northbank Urban Design Concepts.

WA:  BHP Tower, Perth, Perth Cultural Centre Urban Design Study; Riverside Project, Waterfront Common and Hillside Precinct, Perth; Perth Metrorail William St & Esplanade Stations, Perth.

CHINA: Ningbo City Extension and New City Centre, People’s Republic of China; Tianjin Exhibition Centre Competition.

INDIA: ANZ Headquarters, Bangalore, India.

SINGAPORE: 4 underground rail stations, Singapore Circle Line.

In addition to these projects, HASSELL have undertaken major works in all Australian States and throughout Asia.

View the profile of HASSELL here on Domain Design.