4 June 2022

Sustainable design advocate takes top architecture prize

| Ian Bushnell
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Dr Melinda Gordon

Dr Melinda Dodson: committed to sustainable cities. Photo: Australian Institute of Architects.

Sustainable design advocate Dr Melinda Dodson has been awarded the ACT’s top architecture prize.

The ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects announced its annual awards on Friday night (3 June).

The community advocate, researcher and architect was awarded the ACT President’s Medal for her commitment to sustainable cities through architectural practice, research, industry leadership and public advocacy for more than 25 years.

Dr Dodson is the principal of Melinda Dodson Architects, an Institute Life Fellow and former National President.

ACT President Jane Cassidy said Dr Dodson embodied what it is to be a professional who acts in the public interest to improve outcomes for the community.

She said Dr Dodson had a passion for delivering inclusive, sustainably built environments.

“She strongly believes that architecture holds the key to solving many of the frustrations of our cities,” she said.

“Her research informs the development of strategies to improve housing choice and affordability and to reduce housing carbon emissions, set against the ACT 2045 net-zero targets.”

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Dr Dodson was also recognised for the ground-breaking Canberra Low Carbon Housing Challenge (CLCHC), an innovative local competition and showcase for sustainable building and construction she founded.

The Challenge took out the Clem Cummings Medal, which recognises contributions by non-architects and architects to architecture in the public interest.

The CLCHC team is Dr Dodson, Rob Henry from Rob Henry Architects and David Clarke of Tallowwood Architecture.

The competition highlights low-carbon strategies and efficiencies that can reduce the overall carbon emissions from homes, not just energy efficiency.

Ms Cassidy praised the Challenge team, its public outreach through the competition, and digital and face-to-face public exhibitions.

“The team has achieved excellent results in its short life and has already developed an ambitious program of research projects, peer education and exhibitions to extend its reach from single housing to larger-scale developments,” she said.

Kate Shepherd

Kate Shepherd: the future of ACT architecture. Photo: Rob Henry Architects.

The ACT Architecture Professional Practitioner Award went to Russell Pfitz from GHD Woodhead for his enduring impact on the profession over three decades and his excellence in technical architecture.

Mr Pfitz has worked across complex industrial and institutional architecture, including water and energy, Defence and security, and has developed significant heritage and technical expertise.

This has been demonstrated through projects including architecture across the Federal Parliamentary Triangle to achieve marble-faced restoration, copper roof replacement, asbestos remediation and waterproofing.

“His technically focused heritage work ensures that our significant architecture endures for future generations,” the jury said.

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The future of architecture in the ACT was recognised with Kate Shepherd of Rob Henry Architects winning the Emerging Architect Prize.

Noting her excellence in cross-practice design, the jury said Ms Shepherd had demonstrated incredible longevity, breadth and commitment to the industry through her volunteer work and industry leadership.

“With the knowledge she has gained through practice, Kate has applied considerable design skill and refined technical detailing at both commercial and residential scales. Kate Shepherd exemplifies what it means to be an architect in society,” the jury said.

The top student prize for achievement at the University of Canberra went to Amanda Marshall for the highest grade point average over five years, winning her the ACT Chapter Student Medallion.

Roger Clarke won the John Redmond Prize for the highest achievement in the first three years of the Bachelor of the Built Environment (Architecture).

Juliana Zubovic took out the Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Graduate Prize for the highest grade point average over the two-year Master of Architecture course.

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