STATEMENT - Response to Australian Financial Review article - 23 August 2020

I write in response to Tom McIlroy’s article in the Australian Financial Review (23 August), “Architects say War Memorial rebuild will harm heritage”. The article makes reference to an open letter penned by former National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Clare Cousins.

I am surprised Ms Cousins’ claims to represent the views of the membership Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) as a whole. Five leading architects (Cox Architecture, Scott Carver, Lyons Architecture, Guida Moseley Brown Architects, and DJAS Architecture) who are AIA members are currently involved in the delivery of the development project.  

I would like also like to address the architectural design competition process.

The Memorial arrived at the proposed designs over a three-year period. Careful attention was paid at every stage of the process to ensure that the design would protect the heritage value of the original building and the sandstone façade is not impacted. Four of Australia’s leading firms in public building architecture were selected to develop competition entries for additional gallery space to the north of the main Memorial building. The architects had complete freedom to meet the Memorial’s functional requirements, including the option to retain and expand the current Anzac Hall within the design boundaries and in compliance with the heritage criteria.

Four concept designs – one of which retained an expanded Anzac Hall – were presented to a jury of three highly-regarded architects and two senior Memorial staff. After careful study, the design by Cox Architects – which included replacing Anzac Hall – was chosen as the solution to best meet the Memorial’s needs for the next 50 years.

A similar design competition was held of the southern entrance, and Scott Carver’s competition entry was selected.

Anyone who would like to read more about the perspectives and position of Cox Architecture and Scott Carver can read more about that on their websites.

Although our plans aim to greatly increase the space available to tell the stories of 100,000 Australian veterans who have served during the past three decades, the change to our existing footprint is designed to be substantially less than the 80 per cent suggested.

Council and staff have a deep respect for the Australian War Memorial, and preserving and sharing Australia’s military history. We are amongst its greatest supporters and protectors.

And the invitation I made to Mr McIlroy on 26 June to visit the Australian War Memorial stands. 

Matt Anderson
Director of the Australian War Memorial