Named Chairs

UNSW Chairs innovate, educate and inspire.

David Sanderson

These world leaders provide thought leadership in their respective fields. Chairs deliver innovative education, cutting-edge research and global knowledge exchange. Through our Named Chairs, we acknowledge and celebrate the donors who have given generously to our faculty. 

Anita Lawrence

UNSW’s first female graduate of Architecture in 1955, Associate Professor Lawrence, went on to have a 32-year teaching career at UNSW. She generously left a gift to UNSW in her will to enhance expertise in architectural acoustics through the Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture.

Judith Neilson

Philanthropist and White Rabbit Gallery founder Judith Neilson AM has supported UNSW to fund two Chairs in perpetuity, as an investment in world-class research in Humanitarian Architecture and Contemporary Art.

Penelope Seidler

Architect Dr Penelope Seidler AM has generously funded a UNSW Chair in Architecture (in honour of her late husband Harry Seidler), a PhD scholarship and an international design studio for graduating students.

Join these donors in partnering with UNSW to help shape important research and exchange of ideas to advance a more just and inclusive society. 

Professor Paul Gladston

Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art

Judith Neilson AM generously contributed further funds to UNSW to endow a Chair in Contemporary Art. As founder and director of the White Rabbit Gallery, home to one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art, Ms Neilson is passionate about driving rigorous scholarly research into the global and historic significance of China’s art and culture. 

As the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Contemporary Art at UNSW, Professor Paul Gladston is a global forerunner in scholarship, public engagement and thought leadership with a particular emphasis on contemporary art and visual cultures in and from East Asia and related diasporic communities. In this role, he works closely with the UNSW Judith Neilson Post-doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art.

Prof. Gladston was previously a Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures and Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham. He has written extensively on contemporary art and visual cultures with respect to the concerns of critical and cultural theory. His publications include Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (2014), awarded ‘best publication’ at the Awards of Art China (2015), and Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity (2019), which has been described as “a landmark work both in terms of cultural-criticism and art-historical analysis”. 

He was an academic adviser to the internationally acclaimed exhibition ‘Art of Change: New Directions from China’, staged at the Hayward Gallery-South Bank Centre, London (2012), and inaugural editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (2013-2017). Prof. Gladston also established the scholarly book series Contemporary East Asian Visual Cultures, Societies and Politics (Palgrave-Macmillan) in 2019.

Professor David Sanderson

Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture

In 2015, Dr Judith Neilson AM had a vision to harness architecture as a humanitarian tool to drive socially transformative design and policy change. This sparked her decision to generously fund the establishment of a new academic Chair at UNSW.

As the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture, Professor David Sanderson has led world-class research into the design of affordable housing and sustainable urbanism for people displaced by natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts, and economic and environmental factors.

Prof. Sanderson has worked across the world since 1992 in development, resilience, shelter after disaster and improving the quality of post-disaster recovery in towns and cities. He has held full professorships at Oxford Brookes University and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Prof. Sanderson has been a visiting professor at both Université Paris-Est Créteil, France, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he taught a new course on design and disasters.

Since joining UNSW, Prof. Sanderson has authored several high-profile publications including the 2016 World Disasters Report for the International Federation of the Red Cross, the 2018 State of Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements for the Global Shelter Cluster and the 2019 Urban Humanitarian Response Good Practice Review for the UK Overseas Development Institute. He is editor of the 2020 book Urbanisation at Risk in the Pacific and Asia for Routledge.

Prof. Sanderson is working with a number of PhD candidates and leads the award-winning graduate architecture ‘social agency’ studio which focuses on societal issues including mental health, displacement, homelessness and discrimination. He is also undertaking research on disasters and corruption, and post-disaster recovery in urban areas in the Pacific. Prof. Sanderson is the organiser of the 2018 and 2020 Urban Resilience Asia Pacific (URAP) conferences. Since 2020, he has engaged with several Australian local councils in bushfire recovery and building local resilience.

Professor Mattheos Santamouris

Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architect

Following her studies and career with UNSW, the late Associate Professor Anita Lawrence left a generous donation to UNSW in her will, as part of her inspiring legacy to advance expertise in architectural acoustics. A/Prof. Lawrence was a strong believer that all built environment professionals should understand and value the practice of acoustics, and understand the importance of achieving optimal sound in a room or building.

In recognition of her generosity and leadership, a new Chair in High Performance Architecture was named in her honour in 2015, and Professor Mattheos Santamouris was appointed. Since that time, Prof. Santamouris has delivered research, development and education surrounding energy and environmental quality in the built environment, including its impact on health, comfort, productivity, economy and wellbeing.  

His contribution to academia, and as a key adviser and collaborator for policymakers and industry, has supported the development and implementation of advanced technologies to quantify the impact of regional urban climate change and, in turn, counterbalance its effect. His work has seen new systems and practices developed to support zero-carbon settlements and buildings, while driving progress towards decarbonisation and quality improvements in the building sector.

Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ

Seidler Chair in the Practice of Architecture

Dr Penelope Seidler is passionate about education, particularly in architecture, with a vision that the next generation of architects have the opportunity to learn from a master in their field. This passion sparked her generously gifting funds to UNSW to establish the Chair in the Practice of Architecture, which doubles as a tribute to her late husband and renowned architect, Harry Seidler.

The Seidler Chair in the Practice of Architecture aims to deliver excellence in design studio education by appointing a distinguished practising architect to lead a studio each year and deliver lectures on their theory of architecture from a design perspective. Australia’s only Pritzker prize-winning architect, Professor Glenn Murcutt AO, was the inaugural recipient of this Chair in 2015. This appointment was in recognition of his influence as a dedicated teacher and his prestigious position within the international design community. His legacy has paved the way for future appointees to advance the development of the architecture industry through the education of the next generation.

Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ, distinguished architects and founding directors of Singapore-based practice WOHA, are the newly appointed Seidler Chairs in the Practice of Architecture at UNSW. The architects founded their practice WOHA in 1994 with a focus on conceiving architectural and urban solutions that tackle 21st century problems, such as climate change, population growth and rapidly increasing urbanisation. WOHA has received a number of architectural awards such as the Aga Khan Award for One Moulmein Rise as well as the RIBA Lubetkin Prize and International Highrise Award for The Met.

As appointed Seidler Chairs, Richard and Mun Summ will lead annual design studios at UNSW and deliver a major public lecture exploring how the built environment can contribute to tackling major urban challenges both in Sydney, and globally.

Watch the UTZON lecture from Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ at the UTZON Lecture Collective