6 May 2017
By Dr Helen Norrie, University of Tasmania
Professor Michael Keniger has been awarded the 2017 Australian Institute of Architects President’s Prize, an acknowledgement of his incredible contribution to promoting the architectural profession in general, and actively supporting the careers of others. Arriving in Brisbane in the 1980s after establishing his career working for Norman Foster and teaching at the Architectural Association in London, Mick became a great mentor for several generations of students and staff at the University of Queensland School of Architecture. Moving from practice to academia, Mick was keen to explore how to ‘leverage his role in academia to assist the profession.’ He went about this in many ways, fostering a new wave of talent, and devising ways to lift their practice trajectory from the usual small practice domain of ‘decks and dunnies’ into a more diverse portfolio of commercial and public buildings. Fostering partnerships between emerging and establish practices, and ensuring that lesser known but highly capable small practices were considered for larger public buildings, created a clear shift in procurement practices.
While his leadership and advocacy in the commissioning of new tertiary and public buildings, and his role as the Queensland Government Architect are notable public achievements, those of us fortunate to be taught and mentored by Mick remember his two key mantras; trust and thanks. His keen judgement allowed him to trust the quality of work of colleagues, and be confident that they would rise to the opportunities that he was able to create. As a student and junior colleague, he would always remind us of the importance of supporting and thanking people, as a more effective alternative to complaining. So thanks to Ken Maher for thanking Mick on behalf of us all with this years President’s Award.
All views expressed are those of the individual author and not the Institute.