The “architect’s architect” wins AIA Gold Medal

The “architect’s architect” wins AIA Gold Medal

This year’s winner of the prestigious Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal is RMIT alumnus John Wardle.

The renowned practitioner founded his Melbourne-based studio in 1986 and completed a design-practice research Master of Architecture at RMIT in 2001. Recognising his more than three decades of exemplary architectural practice, the jury described Wardle as the man who had “restored faith in what architects do best – the design of buildings that function well and please hand and eye”.

Wardle’s impact on the profession is apparent both internationally, including his work on the 16th Biennale Architettura in Venice, and in Australia where his craft can be observed around the country on projects of varying scale, ranging from single family homes to large-scale institutional and commercial buildings.

John Wardle John Wardle. Image courtesy Australian Institute of Architects

Jury Chair and AIA National President Professor Helen Lochhead said Wardle had been one of the leading contributors to Australia’s national architectural story.

“John’s outstanding contribution to architecture is wide-ranging and enduring, with his work having a lasting influence in shaping our profession,” Lochhead said.

“He is a designer of consummate skill, whose works from the smallest intricate piece of joinery to complex high-rise buildings receive detailed attention and conscientious formal experiment.”

Speaking to the Australian Institute of Architects following the announcement of the award, Wardle said receiving the award was a remarkable honour.

“It comes at a fascinating time for the practice and has given me an important moment to pause and reflect on all the people that have shaped its history and brought us to where we are.

“I am deeply aware that while the Gold Medal has been awarded to me personally, it is the skills and contributions of so many staff over three decades that it acknowledges, Wardle said.

“It is very much a shared award.”

RMIT Bioscience Building designed by John Wardle Bioscience Building at RMIT University, Bundoora Campus, designed by John Wardle. Image courtesy John Wardle Architects.

John Wardle Architects are currently leading a Design Studio in the Master of Architecture program.

Three of the last 5 AIA Gold Medal Winners have been associated with RMIT: 2016 - ARM Architecture directors Howard Raggatt and Ian McDougall are RMIT Architecture Adjunct Professors and design-practice research Masters alumni; 2017 - Peter Elliot design-practice research Masters alumnus and  2020 - John Wardle.

AIA Victorian Architecture Awards

Meanwhile, RMIT’s The Capitol has been nominated in three categories for the AIA Victorian Architecture Awards.

The refurbishment of The Capitol by Six Degrees Architects is competing for awards in the Heritage Architecture, Educational Architecture and Interior Architecture categories.

RMIT Architecture & Urban Design staff, students, alumni and adjunct professors feature strongly in the short-lists of finalists for the awards, with winners to be announced via a live broadcast on Youtube on 10 July that will, for the first time, be open to members and the public free of charge.

Associate Dean Architecture Professor Vivian Mitsogianni said the awards highlighted the outstanding achievements of the university’s staff, students and alumni, recognising their excellence and innovative contribution to the built environment.

“We are very proud that projects by our continuing and industry staff, adjunct professors and alumni continue to lead the profession locally, nationally and internationally, Mitsogianni said.

“These direct links with industry benefit our students - the next generation - through the very direct connection of these design leaders in our teaching and research programs at RMIT”.

Shortlisted entries can be viewed here.

Main image at top: John Wardle's Bruny Island House in Tasmania.. Image courtesy John Wardle Architects.


Story: Karen Phelan


  • Alumni
  • Architecture

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