Yesterday’s West Weekend magazine released a list of 106 of the most influential WA personalities. (87 men and 19 women.) These included educators, fashion designers, actors, philanthropists, authors, doctors, politicians, mayors, campaigners, a food critic, chefs, business owners and CEOs, lawyers, PR gurus and community leaders. But unfortunately no architects, planners or designers.
This is supposed to be a list of ‘the people driving our state’, and ‘The West Australians who influence how we work, live and play’. And no doubt they all do. But I would argue for a few designers / planners who are shaping our city also. Although they are mostly organisations / groups and therefore might not neatly fit this list, as architecture / planning is generally not just an individual pursuit. Anyway, this is my list (so far) :
HASSELL : The design and execution of 140 William St has remarkably impacted on our cityscape and acknowledged the positive effects of daylighting, modularity and sustainability in the design of effective office spaces. It has brought beautiful design aesthetics to the city, and the refurbishment of some of our treasured heritage buildings has allowed them to be embraced by new generations. The design of the ground plane of both this building and Brookfield Place have contributed positively to our vibrant city culture, increasing the use of city spaces after business hours, which was sorely needed in our city!
The MRA : The foresight involved in planning the Perth City Link project between the Perth Arena site and the Perth train station, including the sinking of the rail line, will create such an amazing space for Perth. And the Perth Cultural Centre space has increased in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Regardless of whether you agree with the design of Elizabeth Quay or not, I would argue that the MRA is definitely impacting on the future direction of our city, and therefore belongs on a ‘most influential’ list.
Steve Woodland, Government Architect : OK, so I haven’t heard much from him individually in a little while, but the fact that WA actually has a Government Architect is the first great step. And the release this year of the Built Environment Policy shows that the department is serious about the positive impact the built environment can have on its citizens and users. This position has the opportunity to have great influence on the future design of our city. Additionally the Perth Samplings series of talks enabling architects to hear from other architects is quite unique and adds to our industry.
Carly Barrett (and all the OHP team) : What a brilliant event Open House Perth was last year. As a jam-packed weekend that opened architecture to the public, through buildings, speakers, and studios, it was an amazing success. I can’t think of any other event that has so critically thrust architecture into the public eye and enabled people to really see what an impact it can, and does, have on the public at large. Hopefully people really took this message with them, and will continue to do so from future Open House events.
CODA : If we’re talking state wide, the urban design and planning work CODA have done in the Kimberleys and Pilbara have impacted positively on cities which are being developed at a faster rate than ever before. When the rush to get development happening is a frenetic pace, and economic considerations are verging on the ridiculous, it’s good to see CODA’s planning guidelines advocating for the better planning of local communities with a focus on social and environmental sustainability. If these plans can develop better local communities amidst the fast pace of mining sprawl, I’d say that is better for all of us, in the long run.
OK, so that’s my starting five. I will add to this list as they pop up in my mind. What do you guys think? Who would you add as ‘most influential’ in the world of architecture and planning in WA today?