photo by James Field
I think I may have peaked too soon. But I’m still pretty chuffed.
This week I was awarded the Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture by the Australian Institute of Architects. I’ve been receiving a steady stream of congratulatory messages, in every form of communication currently known to humankind. It’s been a very gratifying experience.
At the Australian Advancement of Architecture Awards held here in Adelaide this week, I was able to thank a few people, but really there weren’t that many people there to hear those thanks. On top of that I was unprepared and therefore didn’t really do a good job of it. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I’m creating my own little forum right here on this blog in which I can do a little better. Hopefully.
Before I do that though, I thought I’d try and explain what this prize actually means. For a start, I should make it clear that it’s not for doing good architecture. That prize, the Colorbond Steel Student Biennale, went to Adrian Kenyon, whom I can proudly say is also a graduate of UniSA. Another of my fellow alumni, Christopher Trotta, was given a commendation in this section. Great work guys. These are the guys who are doing great architecture.
The SPAA is for other stuff. The guidelines for the awards say this:
This prize is for a most outstanding contribution by an individual or group of SONA members to the advancement of architecture in one or more of the following areas:
- Providing leadership amongst fellow students and/or within the profession
- Promoting the appreciation and advancement of architecture
- Providing a forum for discourse and networking
- Promoting architects in the community
- Advancing the education of Australian architecture students
The student(s) should demonstrate high achievement in one or preferably more of the following categories (but not limited to):
Actually, it says a whole lot more than that, but I guess I want people to understand that I’m not being awarded for great design or academic achievement, rather I’ve been given an award which I understand to be for leadership within the profession.
And I’m more than OK with that.
You see, I’ve been in leadership and even management roles of one form or another since I was about 16 (that’s more than 20 years) and this is the first time that what I’ve been able to do has been acknowledged like this. It’s pretty awesome, and makes a lot of things feel worthwhile. Things that I thought I was stupid for bothering to do sometimes.
But as with all such things, they’re not all things that a person can do by themselves, or at least without the enabling and empowering of others. Which is why I have so many people to thank.
First and foremost is my wonderful wife, Rebecca. For me to be able to give up a career in dentistry to return to university to pursue a new course was only possible with her support. And she has done far more than simply support me. She encouraged me to make the change, and made a lot of sacrifices to make it possible. And given that I haven’t been able to earn a whole lot of money while I’ve been studying, she’s also supported us financially through the last few years. She’s put up with my various moods, my strange hours, my annoying expenses, my long absences from home and so much more that I’m increasingly convinced that she is beyond human. Thanks Bec, I love you heaps. The end is in sight luvvo.
Of course I’ve had the support of a lot of friends and family too. My sister and my mother have been incredible as always, and I hope that me winning an award like this makes them happy to have continued to invest in me.
I also want to thank James Field who has helped me out on so many occasions, both with getting my uni work done, but with so many other things related to whatever I seem to be organising at any given moment. He’s a brilliant photographer, and has taken most (if not all) of the photos of me that seem to have been splashed around lately (with no credit given). But more than that, he’s just been a reliable and trustworthy friend, some whose help I’ve always been able to count on.
Of the countless others who have made the last few years possible for me, there are 2 others whom I need to single out for thanks: Sean McEntee and Jess Miley. When I was SONA rep for UniSA back in 2009, Jess was my Adelaide Uni counterpart, and Sean was my predecessor and then SONA President. The three of us spent a lot of time together and did a lot of work together. And it was with Sean and Jess that I organised Flux, the 2011 Australia New Zealand Student Architecture Congress. As Creative Directors for this event, we talked, argued, wrote, planned, organised, delegated, vented, and so much more. And I can honestly say that I can’t remember any tension between us. In fact we became even better friends for it. Thanks guys, I wish you could have received this prize too.
And my school has been pretty amazing. With all the things I would have to disappear to do, the various extra curricular things that I somehow got myself into, I always had the support of my lecturers at UniSA. Every single one of them. Stephen Ward, our program director, has been wonderful. Angelique Edmonds and Rachel Hurst, who were part of the Flux Coordinating Committee, are just incredible. And they’ve managed to also give me a pretty damn good education. I’m glad to be a student of this school. Proud.
The Institute itself has been great too. The thought that an undergraduate student could host the State Awards ceremony is one that shocks people from outside of SA. But I’ve done it 3 times now, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in something so significant on the arch calendar in this state. And I’ve been a nuisance to Richard, Marissa and Michelle at the SA Chapter Office about more than just this. As a SONA rep I was always hovering around trying to get stuff and creating work for people. The National Office staff work closely with us in staging Flux, and we worked closely with them over a number of months. Paddy, Mel, and Renee, you’re stars!
And I do want to thank Hassell, who took a risk in employing me at a time when things were pretty tough in the world of architecture. Particularly I want to thank Alex Hall for getting me in the door, and Chris Watkins who took the real risks by giving me a start. And to the rest of the Hassell Adelaide office, I know I’ve said it before, but it’s been wonderful working with you. You’ve made it the best working experience I’ve ever had, and I love working with you. And just hanging out and drinking and partying and stuff.
I’m bound to think of other people to thank, in which case I’ll update this post, but I hope you understand how appreciative I am of receiving the 2012 SPAA. Thanks everyone.