From the Chair

From the Chair

The International Area Committee has undergone considerable change and is moving forward.

October is when the International Area Committee (IAC) conducts its annual face to face meeting, immediately following the elections of new members. This year the meeting was held in Singapore prior to the 2012 World Architecture Festival (which was well attended by Australian architects presenting at the festival).

The new committee comprises the following:

Continuing Members

Fiona Nixon, Singapore

Justin Hill, Singapore

Stephen Smit, Shanghai

Hank Koning, Los Angeles

Colin Stagg, Macau (who unfortunately could not attend)

Re-elected member

Bob Nation, Hong Kong and Australia

And a welcome to our new members

Janine Campbell, Zurich

Paul Logsdon, Dubai

David Teh, Malaysia

Ronald Lu, Hong Kong (who unfortunately could not attend)

The committee was joined by Australian Institute of Architects (the Institute) staff from Australia – Ross Clark, Georgina Greenland, and Peter Beratis.

The first order of business was to welcome the new members and elect a new Chair and Vice Chair. I, Hank Koning was elected Chair and the committee elected two Vice-Chairs, Justin Hill and Bob Nation. It was felt that having a chair and two vice chairs provided better opportunity for IAC representation at the annual Institute council meetings.

On behalf of the IAC and the support staff, I wish to extend a big thank you to the outgoing Committee members Hal Murphy, Bill Crouch, John Koh, and Jason Marriot. They all contributed much over many years to advance the goals of the IAC. Thank you all.

The 2012 IAC is very pleased to have committee members from many parts of the globe. Of the approximate 11,500 Institute members, there are some 553 international  members (compared with 280 in Tasmania, 3,000 in NSW, and 23 in the NT for example). The IAC represents a substantial number of Institute members around the globe: – Hong Kong and Macau 186, Singapore 58, USA 41, U.K. 28, Malaysia 78, Dubai 13, Switzerland 3, elsewhere 146. As can be seen, there is a good global distribution of the membership. One of the most important objectives of the IAC is to increase the value of membership with the Institute for international members, and also to increase  overall numbers. With this in mind the IAC established the W.J. Mitchell International Committee prize last year to recognise an Australian architecture related professional who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of architectural practice and/or thought internationally. The IAC has also initiated a change to the way in which international projects are shortlisted for awards, which is hoped will lead to ‘autonomous’ judging of their own awards – as takes place in the State Chapters.

For the W. J. Mitchell prize, the IAC received many nominations for this prestigious award, and were impressed by the number of high calibre candidates nominated from all over the globe. After much discussion and debate the recipient of the 2013 W. J. Mitchell Prize was selected. This will be announced at the Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards in March 2013 in Canberra. All nominations received, but not selected, will be maintained on a list for 5 years for future consideration similar to the process for the selection of Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

For the International Design Awards the IAC selected one committee member (1 is required) and a number of other candidates (2 required) to serve on the shortlisting jury. These recommended jury members have to be approved by the Institute’s National Council and president, and will be announced shortly thereafter. Their task is to review the international awards submissions and select from those a shortlist of projects that will move up to the National Awards Jury for consideration. This review is undertaken digitally and then discussed via teleconference. The idea of actually having one or more of the jury and/or IAC physically visiting the projects submitted was discussed. This would then bring the international projects more into line with the process used for the national and state awards. The IAC is working towards achieving that goal as well.

The IAC also discussed the issue of fees and whether these were at the appropriate price point to encourage and maintain membership. Various ideas were discussed regarding membership incentives. This is an ongoing discussion and the committee encourages all international members to submit their thoughts on this (or any other issue).

Also on the agenda was the International e-news. The committee members, teamed in pairs, selected dates for editorial responsibilities for the quarterly international e-news. Editors will select the theme for each edition and solicit articles for incorporation. All members are encouraged to submit articles – be it simple notification of architectural events that happened or are about to happen in your location, or full on (but brief) architectural manifestos. The IAC also decided that the international e-news should be distributed to all members of the Institute, not just to the international members.

Following the day’s face to face meeting the IAC was joined by Shelley Penn, President of the Australian Institute of Architects for a discussion. Later we met at the headquarters of the Singapore Institute of Architects where a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) was executed by the SIA and the Institute. This MoU records the key principles governing the future direction of the formal relationship between the Institute and the SIA, the professional institutes of architects in their respective countries, for the purposes of mutual support and cooperation. The full MoU is attached for those interested. The Institute has been actively pursuing similar MoUs with professional associations in other countries.

Later in the week the IAC held a special event at Space Asia Hub, at which the 2012 Australian Architecture Awards International Category finalists were announced and presented with certificates. This event was well attended and included the showing of the video ‘A Series‘.

These were certainly a busy few days for the IAC and I think we can all agree that the International Area Committee has implemented some very positive changes and will continue to move forward to better serve the international membership.

Hank Koning