This year, the Australian Institute of Architects has chosen to award “controversial” firm, ARM Architecture, the Gold Medal. The prize is the country’s highest architecture accolade. In the competition’s 56-year history, it is only the second time the Gold Medal has gone to a group of three.

Founded in 1998, the practice from Perth in South West Australia have a history of “dividing opinion” and producing bold, contemporary, and daring designs that often showcase elaborate forms with bright colors. In the jury comprising the Institute’s National President, Jon Clements, former President David Karotkin, Alice Hampson, Annabel Lahz, and Professor Carey Lyon, no opinions were divided as they lauded the trio as “highly talented individuals.” The firm’s directors Stephen Ashton, Howard Raggatt, and Ian McDougall received the award on Friday 29th April, with the Institute stating that they have “built a successful large-scale practice which has had a profound impact across the national design landscape.”

Perth Arena (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Perth Arena (Courtesy Wikipedia)

“This is a practice that has been a genuine leader, influencer, provocateur, culture builder and disseminator of ideas for nearly three decades, and at the core of the practice are three outstanding architects who have created some of the most extraordinary buildings in the short post-colonial history of this country,” said Clements.

The award acknowledges their notable works, including the Perth Arena in Western Australia, Storey Hall at RMIT University, the refurbishment of Hamer Hall, Melbourne Recital Hall and the reconfiguration of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, a project that took ten years. On receiving the honour Ian McDougall said “We’ve always been interested in architecture that tells stories about our lives, about our cities. It is humbling to have our ideas acknowledged in this way.”

Past winners of the Gold Medal include Glenn Murcutt, Jørn Utzon (known for the Sydney Opera House), Brit Andresen, Harry Seidler and Robin Boyd.

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