Melinda Dodson

By Tina Perinotto

1 June – The Australian Institute of Architects has appointed a young female, “green” National President.

In a media announcement today, the AIA said Melinda Dodson would be its 70th National President, the “youngest ever” in the role and only the second woman to hold the position after Louise Cox, who is now  head of the International Union of Architects.

The AIA said that the appointment signified a “new face” for the profession,  “dynamic, young, innovative and green.”

Ms Dodson, a principal architect with GHD Architects in Canbera, has worked with Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Architects and was awarded the Young Architect Prize in 2005.

Among her priorities as president would be a key commitment to increase awareness and adoption of sustainability, Ms Dodson said in the statement.

“In Australia, we are not yet meeting the challenge of climate change, despite incontrovertible and overwhelming evidence about cities and greenhouse-gas emissions,” Ms Dodson said.

“Modelling data and reports confirm rising global temperatures, drastic loss of forest, plant and animal species, and current growth in urban populations of 1.2 million per week.

“As a result, there are parts of the world defined as climate change vulnerable – including many of our Australian cities and the international cities we rely on for trade and commerce.

“To turn this around requires vision, leadership and effective action, and as leaders of a GHG-intensive industry, architects have a responsibility to act. Through the creative process,we can provide architectural solutions that sustain long-term human health and well being.”

Ms Dodson said that part of the challenge was to end suburban sprawl, which contributed to greenhouse gas emissions.

“We seek ‘smart growth’ of our cities, such as urban infill. All new and existing buildings must work with our climate, not fight it,” she said.

“It’s essential that, as the trend towards bigger and bigger houses continues, we all ask ourselves–how much is enough?”

Ms Dodson said other priorities would be to focus on sustainable cities and architecture; effective contract and project partnerships; support for young, emerging and female architects; and a fostering of the Institute and architecture community working in Australia and offshore.

Ms Dodson succeeds Sydney architect Howard Tanner.