The Australian Institute of Architects' National Architecture Awards were held in Melbourne on 29 October.

The 2009 Sir Zelman Cowen Award - the top annual architecture award - was presented to the National Portrait Gallery in the ACT by Sydney-based Johnson Pilton Walker. The Gallery also received a National Architecture Award for Interior Architecture.

Jury chair Howard Tanner said "The monumental concrete edifices of the National Gallery and the High Court dominate this precinct, to which the National Portrait Gallery is the new family member. Smaller, more precious, it seeks to resolve a public presence and public gallery with the intimate, often domestic-scaled nature of portraiture."

National Awards for Public Architecture were also presented to educational facilities in Sydney and Melbourne - the All Saints Primary School at Belmore in NSW by Angelo Candalepas Associates and the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy by Architectus Melbourne.

The Melbourne Recital Centre and MTC Theatre Project by ARM - was awarded the Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture. Jury members said the complex contains the most significant new performing arts venues in Melbourne, with easy access and effective egress being givens, along with sizeable lobbies and public areas, and a functional back of house.

Australia's top award for international architecture, the Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture, was awarded to the 'red steps' TKTS Booth/Redevelopment of Duffy Square, New York, by Sydney Firm Choi Ropiha with Perkins Eastman, PKSB.

The Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture was presented to ivy on George Street in Sydney by Woods Bagot, in collaboration with Merivale Group and Hecker Phelan & Guthrie. In a double win, the project also received a National Award for Urban Design.

"The popular palaces of culture - the cinemas, stadia, and pubs and clubs - have, in recent years, rarely presented themselves as high architecture. ivy is a remarkable exception. Part Roman baths, part smart restaurants, part urbane gathering place, it has been fused into the city's fabric in a presentable and ingenious way," the jury said.

For the first time in four years, Australia's most prestigious residential award returned to the nation's biggest housing market - with the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture - Houses, going the Freshwater House in Sydney's northern beaches, by husband and wife team Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little of Chenchow Little Architects.

In a double scoop for fellow young Sydney-based husband and wife team Rachel Neeson and Nick Murcutt of Neeson Murcutt Architecture, the couple received National Awards for Residential Architecture for two houses in NSW and Victoria - the Whale Beach House at Whale Beach in Sydney and Zac's House at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsular.

The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing went to Melbourne-based practice Wood Marsh for the 22-storey Balencia Apartments on St Kilda Road in Melbourne. The jury said: "St Kilda Road, conceived as Melbourne's grand boulevarde, was once lined by imposing houses, now largely replaced by dull high rise buildings. Balencea counters this trend, recognising the importance of its position on a corner site, and the opportunity to achieve intrigue through its fluted form and slenderness, when viewed from certain positions."

The Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage was this year awarded to the St.Paul's Cathedral, Conservation of the Fabric, by Falkinger and Andronas, Architects, Heritage Consultants.

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl by Yuncken, Freeman Brothers, Griffiths and Simpson, received the National 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture, being described by the jury as "one of the great tent-like suspension structures of the world", and "a clear indicator of the vibrant creative forces active in Australia circa 1960, that were allowed realisation to great acclaim."

The Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture was presented to young Sydney-based architect James Stockwell for the Snowy Mountains House overlooking Lake Jindabyne.