Penelope Seidler backs best practice in architecture education

Arts patron and architect Penelope Seidler has funded the first Chair in the Practice of Architecture at UNSW, to be held by Pritzker Prize-winner Glenn Murcutt.

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Investing in education ... Penelope Seidler is ensuring the next generation of architects learns from the best. Pictured with UNSW Professor Glenn Murcutt (Credit: Grant Turner)

UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment has announced the establishment of The Seidler Chair in the Practice of Architecture, funded by a gift from architect, businesswoman and arts patron Penelople Seidler AM.

Dr Seidler has also funded a PhD scholarship and an international design studio for graduating students.

Dean of UNSW Built Evironment, Professor Alec Tzannes AM, paid tribute to Penelope Seidler for her generosity and long-standing support of the Faculty as a member of the Advisory Council.

“This investment is recognition at the highest level of our commitment to excellence in design studio education and to ensuring our students have access to the best practitioners and inspiring teachers,” said Professor Tzannes, who is a multi-award-winning architect.

“We salute Penelope’s philanthropy in funding the first endowed Chair of its kind in Australia dedicated to advancing design education through leadership in professional practice.”

Dr Seidler, a director of Harry Seidler and Associates, said: “I am excited about this collaboration with UNSW. I am a member of the Faculty’s Advisory Council and I care very much about education, particularly in architecture. It is important for me to ensure the next generation of architects has as many opportunities as possible to learn from the best – someone who is a master in their field.

“My late husband Harry felt very strongly about this, too, so the Chair is a tribute to him,” Dr Seidler said.

Harry Seidler AC OBE was UNSW’s first Visiting Professor in Architecture, appointed in 1980. He taught an exceptional studio and delivered a lecture series on the theory and practice of architecture.

“For more than three decades, UNSW Built Environment has engaged with leaders in architecture to enrich the student experience, complementing academic expertise and knowledge with practice-based design teaching,” Professor Tzannes said.

The appointment of Glenn Murcutt AO as the inaugural recipient of the Chair reflects this ethos. Professor Murcutt – who currently teaches a regional design studio for graduating students at UNSW – has received many local and international awards, including an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s top honour.

Penelope Seidler said she was “thrilled” about the appointment. “As an internationally renowned architect and a dedicated teacher, Glenn embodies all the qualities we hoped for in this role. I couldn’t think of anyone better.”

Professor Murcutt said: “What a wonderful thing it is that Penelope is supporting a Chair at the University of New South Wales. It’s a fine tribute to Harry, with whom I had a very good relationship. He brought world architecture to Australia, so to be the first recipient of the Seidler Chair is pretty amazing.

“I teach because I have a great love of architecture and design. And I believe teaching makes a good architect a better one.”

Media contact: Denise Knight, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 3249 / 0405 207 685 d.knight@unsw.edu.au

About The Seidler Chair, PhD Scholarship and International Studio
The Chair 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.The Seidler PhD Scholarship supports the advancement of knowledge in modern architecture in the Australian context. The Seidler International Studio 2014 and 2015 includes viewing Harry Seidler’s six UNSW lectures with discussion led by invited guests as part of the design studio learning and teaching framework. Coordinated in conjunction with Harry Seidler & Associates, the studio includes a two-week design program for students at an architecturally significant location overseas.