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Ken Woolley awarded honorary doctorate

April 29, 2010

The University of Sydney awards honorary doctorate to ‘Sydney School’ architect Ken Woolley.

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Leading Australian architect Ken Woolley has been awarded with an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney. He was presented with the doctorate at a graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall on Friday 16 April.

Woolley graduated from the University of Sydney with First Class Honours in Architecture in 1955. After a successful career working in the NSW Government Architect’s office, he completed project housing work for Pettit and Sevitt before becoming a partner in Ancher Mortlock Woolley in 1964. He has been recognised as one of the key figures in the development of vernacular building and the regional romantic movement known as the ‘Sydney School’.

Woolley’s designs include the Park Hyatt Hotel in Campbell Cove; the ABC Radio and Orchestra Centre in Ultimo; RAS Main Exhibition Halls and the State Hockey Centre, both located in Homebush; among many others. He has received several awards from the RAIA, including the Gold Medal (1993), and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1988.

Woolley received his Doctor of Science in Architecture (_honouris causa_) from Deputy Chancellor Alan Cameron AM after a brief presentation by Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence. He later delivered the graduation ceremony’s Occasional Address. With an audience including over 150 Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Design in Architecture graduates, he spoke of how architecture is distinguished from other art forms by its performance of purpose: “That is what distinguishes architecture as an art from all the others. It is a balance between performing its purpose and being a powerful, creative art that defines the spaces of civilisation, at whatever quality it is produced,” he said.

He continued: “Architects are almost never engaged on the basis that they are to achieve a supreme work of art on the understanding that the use of the building is of lesser importance and is to be the variable factor. Quite the contrary, the expectation of the architecture is that it should accompany the production of a building for a well-defined purpose – that justifies the cost of building it. The architecture is to transcend the pragmatic limitations – to achieve an artistic vision without loss of its _raison d’être_.”

Woolley’s address was based on one of the chapters of his latest book _Reviewing the Performance_, published by Watermark Press.

Woolley has been a visiting professor of Architecture and Chairman of many committees serving the profession and the community. He now acts as a Design Consultant for Ancher Mortlock and Woolley.

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