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Accolades for Aotearoa’s architecture abroad: Bishop Selwyn Chapel earns Auckland firm Fearon Hay major award

Fearon Hay won the award in the tripartite category, and practice directors Jeff Fearon and Tim Hay travelled to Los Angeles to receive the award earlier this month at a glittering lunch at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Jeff Fearon said receiving an award in the company of the Los Angeles community was a great honour for his practice, as well as for Aotearoa’s design industry. The awards were attended by more than 700 key architects, designer and civic leaders.

“The most exciting aspect was the nature of the awards and the opportunity to participate alongside the architectural community in Los Angeles, which is notoriously difficult to do from New Zealand,” he said. “In addition to the ceremony, the programme also established meetings with key people and provided an opportunity to share what we are doing. We have been able to continue those discussions since we returned to New Zealand.”

The chapel, which provides a strong visual link between two historic churches in Parnell, features a transparent glass box with a dramatic gold tiled ceiling and is topped by a sweeping roof. The chapel also won a Gold Pin award at last year’s Best Design Awards.

Fearon Hay’s presence at the awards was the result of an ongoing relationship between Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou, which was established when Auckland hosted the Economic Tripartite Summit in Auckland in 2016. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed for the establishment of the GALA Design Alliance between the three cities. The parties to the GALA Design Alliance are T?maki Makaurau (Auckland) Design Alliance, the Guangzhou Urban Planning and Design Survey Institute and the Los Angeles Business Council. 

The aim of the alliance is to share city to city knowledge of urban design, sustainability and smart city technology. Guangzhou hosted a workshop on the Pearl River in May last year, and TMDA hosted three interns from Guangzhou and from Los Angeles for three months earlier this year.

Landscape Architect and Urban Designer Henry Crothers is chair of T?maki Makaurau Design Alliance, and attended the LABC architecture awards, which were held in the same ballroom as the Golden Globes are held. “The win works across several layers. It supports the emerging strategic relationship between our partner cities, enables the sharing of information about urbanism, city making and good design and creates opportunities for future collaboration and interaction with Auckland designers.”

The Designers Institute of New Zealand is also a member of the GALA TMDA committee and CEO, Cathy Veninga, also travelled to the awards ceremony in Los Angeles. “The chief value of Fearon Hay’s win and our attendance at the awards is to showcase New Zealand and Auckland design to a global audience. The audience at the awards was a very powerful group so it was really useful for relationship building and it also marked another significant step in the strategic alliance between our cities.”

Not to mention a pretty cool accolade.

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