“Kerstin has a large following among the current generation of architecture students, as the concerns of her practice resonate strongly – including the importance of local conditions, landscape and community and the way that they are deployed and realised through architectural design projects,” she said.
In addition to the directorship of her thriving practice, Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA), Thompson has maintained a close association with the University’s School of Architecture & Urban Design as an alumna, a practitioner-academic and Adjunct Professor.
In accepting the award, Thompson said her training at RMIT has had a big impact on her career and her approach to running KTA.
“As a critical practitioner, much of that stems from my education at RMIT and then in turn teaching as well,” she said.
“The challenge we always had was to have a position – to take a position on things.
“That was a very early and important foundation to the practice, then bringing that thinking and clarity to the making of buildings every day, and in turn to the making of it as a business and a workplace.”
Thompson said she sees the AIA Gold Medal as both an acknowledgement of past achievements and a future challenge to stay true to the purpose of her practice: to design buildings that meaningfully connect people with place, to foster a stimulating and supportive workplace culture and to contribute to the education of and advocacy for architecture.
“It would be a mistake to consider this a point of completion, rather the gold medal is a reminder, a prompt to not rest,” she said.
“It is encouragement to keep up the good fight – the valuing of architecture –especially in light of our industry’s pressures.”
As winner of the Gold Medal, Thompson will embark on a national tour from August to September this year, delivering an address about her work, experiences and architecture.
Since 2016, five of the annual AIA Gold Medal awards have gone to RMIT staff or alumni of the design-practice research masters program which is now a PhD offering.
These recipients include Thompson (2023), Sean Godsell (2022), John Wardle (2020), Peter Elliot (2017) and joint winners Howard Raggatt and Ian McDougall (2016).
RMIT takes out Student Prize
At the same ceremony, current RMIT Architecture student Blake Hillebrand was awarded the 2023 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture.
The prize is for the most outstanding contribution by an individual member of the Student Organized Network for Architecture (SONA) towards the advancement of architecture in the areas of leadership, publication, community engagement or education.
Hillebrand was recognised for his breadth of initiatives that have enabled social engagement and connection for architecture students across Victoria in the wake of the pandemic.