Perth’s 100 most influential people doesn’t include architects

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?


6 thoughts on “Perth’s 100 most influential people doesn’t include architects

  1. There is one architect on the list – Len Buckeridge

    Does architecture come under Arts & Entertainment or Business?

    In a broader sense there are no designers besides fashion designers. No artists, no one in advertising (there is some PR peeps), one producer / screenwriter, two actors, one writer etc. etc. And most of the ones they have picked don’t even live in Perth (or WA!) so influence on our community (besides pride?) is likely to be minimal.

    On the other side (besides Len B.) there are no property developers, contractors, – Where is Adrian Fini? Rhonda Wyllie? Russell Hawkins etc. who are visible and contribute in many ways to WA society. See any engineers?

    The tower and podium of 140 is a great achievement, however the ground plane is far less successful – the space occupied by Jamie’s Italian was a disaster for The Herdsman, there are continuing vacancies and whoever thought it was a good idea to exit the underground on the perimeter of the site shows a distinct lack of foresight and understanding of basic integrated transport / retail design. The food court is (was) unoccupied and uninviting (go to ENEX100 and take notes). I understand that the architects may not be solely responsible for all these decisions.

    The Built Environment Policy is cliche laden aspirational waffle. The action plan is far better and straight forward. The OGA design literature (with hideous graphic design and layout like drop shadows on photos and side bars, little white space, clashing background and text etc) is very generic and very similar in content to past publications from CABE and the UK Design Council.

    MRA is a good call, with the backing of Premier Col (ripping a page from the Jeff Kennett playbook) has driven some of the better changes in the urban environment of Perth.

    OHP is a good initiative but has overtones of astroturfing

    Just as with the current Pritzker prize controversy on single architects getting the cred for a collaborative practice, choosing CODA is warranted – but then who do you choose?

    With the nature of design being so collaborative, subjectively selecting one person as a top 100 social influencer is extremely difficult

    I would nominate Richard Weller and David Karotkin

  2. PA – i don’t think you’ve hit the mark with the top 5– i think you’ve chosen those who have the best PR rather than the most influential. I don’t know why im feeling so bitter and twisted on a Monday but here goes:
    My thoughts –
    Agree with government architect and open house team – government architect has been working away for years now, starting initiatives, stopping government being lazy, pushing for better outcomes in projects, the PS series etc etc. Sorry bob – i don’t have any problems with aspirational. Though the graphics are poor. And open house – speaking to the general public for the first time about architecture, and growing some appreciation for our industry and the role of design – its tops!
    CODA – they’re a very good firm, but have got a bit painful. But with success you get that i guess.
    Hassell – again good at times, but sometimes very average! And 140 has loads of issues as bob says – the design of the layout of commercial tenancies haven’t worked and they’re spending 15 million dollars to do an upgrade!
    And MRA – argh! Influential – yes. good – no! They don’t have foresight – they’ve only been around for what 2 years? Remember EPRA? It was many others who started planning on the link, waterfront and cultural centre. And anybody who’s talked to anyone on these projects knows MRA can be a brick wall and change projects for the worse at the last minute to put their stamp on them! They somehow have so much money and spend it on trivial superficial endeavours – an example – a website for the public to choose where they want a coffee cart in the horseshoe bridge?! Head in the sand, ignoring advice about the HUGE tunnel popping out in the middle! Or the fact that when you look at the masterplan – the link doesn’t link!?!
    OK enough whining– other influential people in architecture and design:
    AUDRC? Richard Weller challenging us all…
    ARM? Exposed perth to quality in the Arena and still battling the MRA, the public, western suburbs lobbying groups through painful waterfront developments…
    Whoever chose the site for the State Theatre? Building up William St, adding to the cultural centre, finally acknowledging Roe St…
    Its an interesting topic PA…

    • Thanks for your response Moosey and Bob. I did have that feeling as I was writing that maybe I’ve been sucked in by ‘the spin’.
      All good points you’ve both made. So we’ve now got a hundred percent of respondents mentioning Richard Weller – seems AUDRC should be on the list too. I did think about this one, particularly in response to their recent ‘Made in Australia’ book launch, following on from some of the important investigations included in Boomtown.
      ARM have certainly been influential, and got people talking about architecture and public space in a much greater way than in previous years.
      Perhaps I was misguided with MRA then. I guess I meant whoever started the major public development projects in Perth in the last five or so years, but maybe I am attributing too much to them.
      And I agree Bob, I think when it comes to design it is too hard to pick a person, as it is ideally a collaborative process. So perhaps this should be a list of ‘Most Influential Designers’?
      And so what do we think about David Karotkin / the Institute as an influential body in WA?

      • I put the MRA as they incorporate Midland redevelopment of rail yards and that there has been traction around the city. Recognition doesn’t necessarily equate with being easy to work with.

        I put David Karotkin as he (as President of WA AIA) challenged the Premier when killing the stadium design competition when the OGA appeared quiet.

        OGA had a far greater public influence when Geoffrey London was in the house. In many respects it is a fraught position for Steve as he is a Director of a practice that benefits from Government capital works.

        There are so many smaller firms who are doing strong work (Coniglio Ainsworth, Wright Feldhusen etc.) and it seems unfortunately private and public risk and parochialism will consign them to the residential/small project ghetto unless WA society and industry champion design over the status quo.

        I think an annual top 20-50 influential WA designers/artists/creatives would be a great way to start (and you can only be on it once unless you are truly remarkable!)

  3. – Beth George and Nic Brunsdon – Spacemarket, Post – and postively influencing the next generation of talent
    – Simon Pendal and Stephen Neille – Practicing Architects, landed a regular column with the West and also influencing talent for many years
    – Officer Woods
    – Formworks

    Once you start the worms pop out

    Great topic to bring into consciousness – lots of great suggestions – Julian Boelleter should get massive props for work on Made in Australia and the AUDRC

  4. I was as disappinted. but its Perth and we are skin deep. However; Len’s influence could have been seismic. He came from Krantz and Sheldon, who developed the localised idea of housing by mass production. Their work in high density, much maligned, but I think visionary; still houses more West Australians in an urban context than Len in his suburbanite Megalord glory. And from Len’s office after K&S came Oldfield Knott, who reinvented inner city living in Subiaco in the late 70’s.They brought Booragoonites and Karinyupites back to the city & they did the first lane way project in Perth (shafts Lane 1979) and; in 1981 its where I learnt how to bypass councils, public opinion, lists and generally everything but good blogs, to build what we need to build to survive as a city.

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