UQ Architecture Lecture Series with Richard Kirk

Richard Kirk Photo by Toby Scott

Richard Kirk Photo by Toby Scott

Richard Kirk is a well known figure in Queensland architecture circles and will present at the fourth UQ Architecture lecture on Tuesday 22 March.

He is principal director of KIRK which designed ABC headquarters in Brisbane; immediate past president of Queensland Chapter of Australian Institute of Architects; vocal about the efficacy of heritage legislation in Queensland; and has just been announced as the newest board member for the South Bank Corporation.

Today we learn more about Richard’s career highlights and the principles which inform his work.


Tell us a little about your background, and what originally led you to architecture?

I always enjoyed drawing and making things. There was always a project of some sort, big and small.

Can you give us a little insight into what a normal work day looks like for you?

I try to review the work being produced throughout the day. So that involves workshops with the teams, consultants and clients.

What are some daily office rituals or habits you employ to enhance your productivity and creativity?

The process of sketching is very important part of the design process – especially now where the design can be modelled so quickly. Sketching is that short-hand process of communicating ideas to the team or clients. The initial sketching and the physical modelling process is that one moment where the intent and purpose of the project can be distilled into a few key moves or strategies – I consider this a very important time in the project as it sets up that discipline, or idea set for the life the project.

What principles inform your work?

The key idea is architecture is largely about your own sensibility that you bring – sensibility about the context, its meaning, its value and broader values you contribute. The production of architecture is no longer the domain of a few people now, so as architects we need to think carefully about what we contribute to the process of making the built environment.

Where do you go for design inspiration?

Visiting great buildings and places.

What has been a career highlight for you so far?

The successful heritage listing of the Queensland Culture Centre building, namely the QPAC, QAG, The Edge and the Queensland Museum, in 2015 by the Australian Institute of Architects is probably the most important highlight. This is important for a number of reasons: it was the first nomination in the history of the Institute in Queensland; it demonstrated that contemporary modern buildings have heritage value and are valued within the community. The listing will help protect the architectural integrity of the buildings which are a rare suite of rigorous and materially restrained buildings – exemplars of its type. Importantly the listing will go some way, we hope, towards maintaining the low rise form of the buildings within the city. This is where it defines the public domain within the city adding a rare degree of legibility. Significantly the listing preserves the forecourt as a public open space – the first time the legislation was used to preserve public space. This is a key legacy for the future of the city as it starts to fill up and become less and less flexible for the future.

Which Australian or international architecture people, practices, designers or similar do you admire?

I admire many – this is such a demanding profession to operate in. The architects I do admire are the ones that remain active and producing a body of work over their entire professional lives.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

Any of the El Croquis

On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time by Mohesen Mostafavi and David Leatherbarrow

Collage City by Colin Rowe et al

Hot Modernism Queensland Architecture 1945-1975 by  John Macarthur, Deborah van der Plaat, Janina Gosseye, Andrew Wilson

Australian Architecture since 1960 by Jennifer Taylor

What can attendees to your lecture expect to hear and see?

A discussion on the work of the practice and the issues and challenges around advocacy for architects and architecture during my term as Queensland Chapter President for the Australian Institute of Architects.

When: Tuesday 22 March

Where: SLQ Auditorium 1, level 2, State Library of Queensland

Cost: Free

Register: Eventbrite

Architectural professionals who attend the series will be eligible for two formal continuing professional development points (CPD). This event will also be livestreamed.

2016 UQ Architecture Series is presented by the University of Queensland School of Architecture and the Asia Pacific Design Library.