Newly elected President Ken Maher is expected to bring a new focus to the Australian Institute of Architects’ policy program, given his passion for design quality.

Following his inauguration as the 77th National President at the Annual General Meeting in Melbourne recently, Maher commented that architecture was much more than a creative profession, with real and significant potential to enhance the quality of lives and support a civil society.

Maher has a strong interest in the role of design in public life, and extensive experience advising governments throughout Australia and internationally on sustainability and the future of cities. Using his skills and networks, he plans to pursue an ambitious advocacy campaign that builds on the Institute’s work promoting the social value of architecture and the importance of building resilient and productive communities.

Maher will begin by launching the Institute’s 2016 Federal Election campaign, calling on each of the major parties to commit to recognising the key role of design in addressing the challenges of building communities and long term value in Australia’s towns and cities of the future.

Maher explained that challenges such as climate change, and exciting opportunities for the densification of cities and the transformation to more vital and engaging public places put the architecture profession in a unique position to provide genuine and informed leadership. Taking the example of the housing affordability crisis facing the country, he said design professionals including architects are uniquely qualified to create options that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Sydney-based Maher, currently a Fellow and former Chairman of leading Australian and International practice Hassell, was awarded the Institute’s highest honour, the Gold Medal, in 2009.

A Professor at UNSW Built Environment, Maher was elected President of Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council in 2015. He is Chair of the City of Sydney’s Design Advisory Panel, a member of the Sydney Opera House Eminent Architects Panel and a board member of both Urban Growth NSW and the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.