Archive 2004

First members meeting

Held on Tuesday 23/3/2004 in Sydney, the meeting attracted over 200 people and heard from Stella de Vulder, Annette Dearing, Manu Siitonen, Glenn Murcutt, James Grose and more discuss the future of the organisation.

Here’s a run-down of what happened:

Unbelievably the venue for our very first members meeting on Tuesday 23 March was changed at the last minute. Luckily the new venue was only across the road and even more luckily it could hold more people than the original theatre that seated 120. Lucky because over 200 people turned up to find out how the AAA was going and to offer their help in turning an ‘idea whose time had come’ into reality.

Members had travelled from Queensland, Western Australia and outside Canberra to participate in this inaugural event.

A page outlining current and proposed activities was handed out (available for download as a PDF or Flash document 55k).

The founding committee and directors led by Glenn Murcutt faced the audience and kept the talking heads part of the evening to about forty five minutes. Stella de Vulder thanked a few people including Glenn and Wendy for giving so much of their time to the formation of the AAA. All the founding committee were thanked for their contribution with James Grose being given a particular thanks for supplying a base from which to launch the AAA operation. Bluescope Steel the AAA’s first major corporate member was recognised and acknowledged for the wonderful assistance their people, particularly Manu Siitonen, have provided with business and marketing strategies.

Glenn spoke to the ‘idea whose time had come’ topic and covered:

  • For nearly twenty years there have been discussions about forming an organisation that was focussed on promoting architecture to the broader community
  • The comments about the level of ignorance about architecture in the general community and in places such as local government planning departments were continual and we never seemed to actually do anything about it
  • The interest in architecture and design has increased in recent years
  • Looking around the world Australia seems to be the last western economy to establish an organisation focussed on taking architecture to the broader community
  • Similar organisations around the world include:
    • The Architectural League in New York formed in 1881
    • The Canadian Centre for Architecture formed in 1979
    • The Architecture Foundation in London formed in 1991
    • The Chicago Architecture Foundation formed in 1966. I had the opportunity to visit with the President and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Lynn Osmond, a couple of weeks ago, they conduct the most marvellous programme of activities that includes:
      • 350,000 people attend lectures, exhibits, youth and adult classes and architecture tours annually
      • a range of tours including boat, bike, bus, CTA train and walking tours which cover downtown districts, individual buildings, bungalows, parks, neighbourhoods, churches etc.
      • CAF has over 400 volunteer docents
      • exhibitions and lectures
      • youth and adult education programmes
      • The Newhouse ArchitectureCompetition produced in partnership with the Chicago public schools has served 12,000 students and awarded 450 internships
      • We are arranging for Lynn Osmond to visit here later this year in order to develop a working affiliation between our two organisations and too further promote the type of programmes we are going to be offering the Australian community.
  • This and the fact that we have received such a positive response to my letter of the 30 January shows that indeed this was ‘an idea whose time had come.’

Annette Dearing spoke about the earliest days of the AAA and showed how quickly a determined group of seven founding members, a major corporate member, and two directors can turn two empty computers and three empty arch lever folders on the 6 January into a fledgling organisation that less than three months later by the 19 March had:

  • an image and brand
  • a live website with registered domain name
  • nearly 300 members
  • 37 founding members
  • 16 lever arch folders (some already full)
  • a member database
  • several media stories
  • active email system
  • two computers with 50 folders and hundreds of documents

Questions from the audience were answered by all members of the founding committee ranging from when will the programme of activities begin to what is the relationship with the RAIA.

The final forty five minutes of the event was spent drinking and talking with members meeting founding committee and directors and sharing a wonderful spirit of adventure and new beginnings.

The positive energy created by bringing the members together was palpable and discussions have started on organising similar meetings including as many members of the founding committee as possible in interstate locations.