One of the highest awards conferred by the New Zealand Institute of architects. A Distinguished Fellow is recognised by as being an exceptional influence on or contributor to architecture in New Zealand. There may be no more than 10 Distinguished Fellows at any time.
If you know where to look you can see Brian Aitken’s influence on many parts of Auckland’s skyline, from the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the Domain right down to the bottom of the city, where Auckland’s tall buildings – Vero, Metropolis, the old ASB tower – are clustered. Few architects, if any in New Zealand, know buildings – and especially tall buildings – as well as Brian does.
In his 40-plus years in architecture, Brian has amassed an unrivalled knowledge of building technology, detailing and design, as well as building code requirements and industry standards. His role in creating major buildings in Auckland and Wellington has been recognised with numerous industry awards – and the tally continues to grow, as buildings such as the bronze-glass landmark at 151 Queen Street, once the Fay Richwhite Building, continue to accumulate awards long after their completion.
Brian’s architectural journey began at the University of Auckland in 1967. Upon graduation, he moved to London, joining Fitzroy Robinson and Partners before being awarded a Hawkins Scholarship, which saw him move to New York to complete a Masters degree at Columbia University in 1970. On his return to New Zealand, Brian joined Peddle Thorp Architects, becoming an associate in 1973 and a partner in 1978, with the practice duly changing its name to Peddle Thorp & Aitken. In his time with the practice, the studio has grown from fewer than 10 staff to more than 40.
Alongside his achievements at Peddle Thorp, Brian has invested his time, knowledge and energy into developing the skills of others in the profession and seeking ways to improve the quality of the urban environment. He has been an examiner for the Architects Education and Registration Board, an Architectural Representative on the Working Party for the original CIC Guidelines, a Trustee Advisor to Unitec School of Architecture, a Member and Chair on Auckland Council’s Urban Design Panel and a Panel Member of the Department of Building & Housing Weathertightness Building Sector Reference Group. Many architects in Auckland have cause to be grateful for Brian’s discrete and judicious advice.
No matter what the endeavour he has undertaken, Brian’s humble conduct, courteous manner and keen intelligence have set him apart. He is an exceptional ambassador for the architectural profession and a worthy recipient of this Distinguished Fellow Award.
The possibilities of architecture struck Richard Harris at an early age. He recalls drawing at kindergarten a “well-proportioned two-storey house with a surprisingly complex roof”, and at primary school he would win a watercolour competition for a rendering of Edinburgh Castle. By his own admission, he continued to make structures out of painted timber blocks long after other kids had consigned them to the attic.
Richard’s more formal architectural training took place at the University of Auckland. After graduation, he worked for a developer before leaving New Zealand to backpack through South America and Europe. On his return, he took a job as an architect at Auckland Council in a period he has described as an optimistic time for the city, and it was then that he developed the love for public projects that would define his career.
Richard was project architect on the first redevelopment of Auckland Art Gallery, then the largest project in town, and other civic work followed, as did a commensurate amount of awards. After setting up in partnership as Gibbs Harris, Richard won a competition to design Auckland’s Maritime Museum. Soon his busy practice, along with Bossley Cheshire Architects, would be approached by Jasmad who proposed the merger which led to the formation of Jasmax.
At Jasmax, Richard played an important role on large and complex projects: the redevelopment of Auckland’s Civic Theatre and Auckland Hospital buildings; the restoration of Auckland Town Hall and the redevelopment of Eden Park; and the design of new buildings on the University of Auckland and AUT University campuses. An especially important project was the Sir Paul Reeves Building at AUT University, a stellar piece of work that illustrates Richard’s ability to focus on the needs of people within a bigger picture.
Richard has reached the highest levels of professional architectural practice. He has served as a president of the Institute, and in that role led a significant reappraisal of the development of New Zealand’s cities and urban spaces. Richard has natural leadership abilities, a genuine interest in nurturing talent and a passion for and ease with people. These qualities have helped shaped Jasmax into the successful firm that it is today, and nurtured the culture of diversity and openness that characterises New Zealand’s largest practice.
Maurice Mahoney holds a pre-eminent position amongst this country's architects. Born in London, he trained in architecture at the Canterbury Architecture Association’s Atelier. After working with a number of Christchurch firms, he eventually joined with Miles Warren to establish, in 1958, what would come to be seen as a seminal New Zealand architecture practice, Warren & Mahoney.
In New Territory, the book documenting Warren & Mahoney’s first 50 years, Sir Miles writes of Maurice: “I admired the way he put things together with such great clarity and precision, his expert draughtsmanship, his ordered approach to design problems. So the partnership began.”
And what a partnership it would be. The impetus for the partnership was the award to Warren of the Dental Nurses Training School project. From there, the fledgling practice quickly achieved remarkable and rapid success, moving beyond the houses that defined the ‘Christchurch style’ of architecture and into works of great scale and complexity, many of which, including Christchurch Town Hall and Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, are considered benchmarks of New Zealand Modernism. On these projects, Maurice’s methodical mastery of all the technical aspects of architectural practice were evident, and indispensable. Testament to the contemporary pre-eminence of the firm led by Maurice and Sir Miles is provided by the four New Zealand Institute of Architects Gold Medals awarded to the practice between 1959 and 1973.
Although Maurice retired from professional practice in 1992, his architectural activity did not stop then. After the Christchurch earthquakes the home he designed in 1966 was demolished. He re-designed the house and had it rebuilt. Maurice’s name is still figuring in the awards books. In 2017 he received an Enduring Architecture award for 18 Butler Street, a mirror-glass-clad house for a family member that shared some of the characteristics of the commercial buildings which Warren & Mahoney was working on more than a generation ago.
Julie Stout is an exceptionally accomplished architect and a most engaging and valued member of New Zealand’s architectural community. After forming Mitchell & Stout Architects with David Mitchell in 1989, Julie has worked on projects ranging from the very large-scale – the form and composition of city blocks – through community and arts buildings to private homes. Across four decades of practice, Mitchell & Stout has won most of New Zealand’s major architectural awards, including, in 1995, the Institute’s Supreme Award for Auckland’s NEW Gallery, a piece of work described as “swoon inducing” by the art critic of The Listener: “With architects like this, who needs artists?”
Other New Zealand Architecture awards with an artistic theme would follow. A New Zealand Architecture Award was received in 2009 for Tauranga Art Gallery and another in 2015 for Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery. There have been two Home of the Year awards, for houses in the King Country and on Waiheke Island. Julie also had the rare privilege of representing New Zealand at the Venice Architecture Biennale as part of the creative team that took ‘Last, Loneliest, Loveliest’ to the 2014 Biennale. In the same year, Architecture+Women New Zealand gave Julie its highest honour, the Chrystall Excellence Award, in acknowledgement of the excellence of her work and her leadership capabilities, status as a role model, and contribution to both the architectural and urban design professions and the wider community.
In addition to her many design accomplishments, Julie has earned a public reputation as a most effective advocate for heritage preservation and the quality of the urban realm in Auckland.
Through her role as an architect, the many hours devoted to Institute and other organisational committees, and her civic activism, Julie has developed hard-won knowledge of the rules which bind local bureaucrats. As chair from 2002-2004 of Auckland Branch’s Urban Issues Group, she took a leading role in lobbying Auckland Council to promote and plan a better built environment for the city, and in 2005 she was appointed to the Auckland Mayor’s Urban Task Force on Urban Planning.
Perhaps the greatest example of Julie’s determined resistance to ill-considered and undemocratic planning and development initiatives occurred in 2015. As president of Urban Auckland, an organisation with an impressive record of successful civic campaigns, Julie led her colleagues to instigate a judicial review that rebuffed Ports of Auckland’s intended expansion into Waitemata Harbour.
Julie has served as a design tutor at The University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning and as an Adjunct Professor at Unitec Institute of Technology. Through her practice work and her civic-mindedness, Julie is an inspiration to the entire profession.