Congratulations John Held!

21 June 2017

The ACA is thrilled to congratulate John Held, ACA – SA President, whose tireless work for the profession has been recognised with the 2017 Sir James Irwin President's Medal. 

The Sir James Irwin President's Medal is awarded by the SA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects to a member or industry collaborative considered by the President to have made a significant contribution to architecture.

John Held has been President of ACA – SA since 2011 and is Vice President of the ACA National Executive Committee. John does an enormous amount for the organisation at both branch and national level, and by extension for the profession more broadly. He is also a regular contributor to this website –  read some of his pieces here

Steve Kennedy, ACA National President, comments "John has been one the Australia's’s leading spokespeople for architects and architecture and a tireless advocate for the industry. John is also Deputy Chair of the Australian Construction Industry Forum, ACIF, the nation's peak industry body. The ACA is delighted that John has been awarded this honour, which is highly deserved."

Citation by Mario Dreosti, SA President, Australian Institute of Architects

The recipient of this year’s Sir James Irwin Presidents Medal is in fact the current South Australian President of a complimentary organisation for the representation of architecture.

Architecture is a unique profession which combines creativity, science and technology along with commercial elements of delivery, team leadership and quality assurance. It does this in the context of business but with a strong social agenda and a responsibility to uphold principles of equity, sustainability and a desire to enhance the world through architecture.

Daily practice allows us to engage with some of these aspects through the design and delivery of projects but support for the profession, advocacy and the evolution of how we operate often involves extra-curricular commitments. As the recipient of many a midnight email I am personally very aware of the phenomenal commitment in time, energy and intellectual property that John Held has made to our profession.

John became a Director of Russell and Yelland in 1982, a practice which is now 78 years old and has traditionally worked in fields of high social value such as education and health care and with a specialist expertise in sustainability.

Through John’s belief in collaboration Russell and Yelland were early adopters of joint venture architectural teams, combing with MGT for recognised results at Mawson Lakes School and continuing this relationship with the now named Guida Mosely Brown across many new projects. John’s support of positive collaboration in an environment of competition and sometimes protectionism has been valuable to our profession. John has also undertaken significant research and been published and presented on education and the built environment, contributing to better knowledge and outcomes for projects beyond his own.

This openness in approach to architectural practice has also seen Russell and Yelland pioneer the adoption and development of BIM in South Australia. John and his fellow directors have not only led the field in commitment to new technologies within their practice but have freely shared their learnings with others and made considerable investment in providing guidance to government and the local industry in the evolution of BIM.

Outside of his practice John is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, has been deputy chair of ACIF and accepted the current role of President of the ACA – SA in 2011 following Keith Neighbour’s significant leadership.

Under John’s guidance the ACA – SA has further developed as an agile and productive advocate for, and supporter of, the business of architecture. As with most voluntary organisations the majority of the work is contributed by a few and John’s personal investment in time and generation of content has been remarkable.

In recognition of a career which has demonstrated core professional values of innovation in technologies, collaboration in our thinking, and in a willingness to lead and deliver vast amounts of voluntary contribution to the benefit of our whole industry, I am honoured to award this year’s Sir James Irwin President’s Medal to John Held.

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