Professor Ken Maher, of the Faculty of the Built Environment (FBE), has confirmed his status as one of Australia's leading architects by winning his profession's highest honour, the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

Professor Maher is a UNSW alumnus and an architect and landscape architect who, throughout a stellar career, has helped shape Sydney with key projects including the restoration of Luna Park, the Olympic Park railway station and the NIDA building in Sydney.

He becomes the third academic from FBE to win a gold medal, joining last year's winner Professor Richard Johnson, and 1992 winner Professor Glenn Murcutt. Other winners of the Gold Medal include Harry Seidler and Jorn Utzon.

The chairman of Australia's largest multi-disciplinary design practice, Hassell, Professor Maher has also created major projects elsewhere throughout Australia and in China and Singapore.

The Gold Medal is awarded to an architect who has designed or executed buildings of high merit, produced work of distinction which advances architecture, or who has endowed the profession of architecture in a distinguished manner.

In its citation, the 2009 Gold Medal Jury said Professor Maher excelled in all those areas.

Professor Maher is a passionate advocate of architectural engagement and collaboration and a champion of outstanding urban design.

As chairman of the NSW Urban Design Advisory Committee, he drove the introduction of planning rules requiring architects to be involved in the design of all new residential buildings over three storeys in height.

Professor Maher said it was "very humbling and wonderful to have your peers honour you" and to receive an award with such a distinguished history.

"If I look at the list of recipients there are quite a few luminaries there, it's very good company to be in," he said.

Professor Maher said he was looking forward to his upcoming speaking tour as Gold Medal winner as an opportunity to talk to and hear from members of his profession at a time of considerable climate and financial challenges. Previously a Visiting Professor, he has this year taken up a part-time appointment as Professor.

"I'm very interested in the relationship between practice, research and teaching and it's very stimulating as a practitioner to engage with students," he said.

Media Contact: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 |