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dr elizabeth margaret farrelly





2005 - present           Weekly op ed columnist and essayist, Sydney Morning Herald


                                              Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney

Urban design and arts consultant


                                             Frequent speaking and media engagements, radio & television


2011                          Integrated Design Commission Advisory Board member, South Australia


2007                          published Blubberland; the dangers of happiness (New South)


2004 - 05                  teaching courses in architectural theory, writing & criticism at USyd& UTS


2000 - 2005:             architecture critic, Sydney Morning Herald

2002                          winner, 2002 Marion Mahony Griffin Award


2002                         annual Walter Burley Griffin Lecture, Canberra


2001                         winner, Pascall Prize for Critical Writing, 2001


1998 - 2000:             Manager, Special Projects, City of Sydney (& Coordinator MCA Project)


1997:                        shortlist for Pascall Prize for Critical Writing, 1997


1996 -1998:              Manager, Planning and Development, UTS


1995 -1998:              architecture & urban design critic, Sydney Morning Herald


1997:                        PhD, University of Sydney:

‘The Sydney Height of Buildings Story; An examination of the intellectual, cultural and political background to development control in Sydney City Centre 1900-1960’


1995-1996:              Chair, Prime Minister’s inaugural Australia Award for Urban Design


1991-1995:             Sydney City Councillor (Independent) responsible for urban design, civic design and architectural projects


1994:                       winner, Adrian Ashton Award for Architectural Journalism

1993:                       author, monograph Three Houses by Glenn Murcut

(Phaidon Press, London 1993), launched by Rt. Hon. Paul Keating, November 1993


1992:                      winner, CICA International Award for Architectural Criticism (Paris)


1992:                       Pascall Prize for Critical Writing (Commendation)


1989 -1991:            architecture critic, Sydney Morning Herald


1983-1991:             extensive university teaching and freelance architectural writing in Sydney, London, Auckland


1984-1987:             Assistant Editor, The Architectural Review, London


1982-1985:             architectural practice, London and Auckland


1978-1982:             design and theory prizes, academic and professional

qualifications :       B. Arch (hons)

                          University of Auckland 1982




                          University of Sydney 1997




Prizes, Awards and Scholarships

2002           Marion Mahony Award for contributions to architecture

2002           Adrian Ashton Award for Architectural Writing

2001          Pascall Prize for Critical Writing, 2001, presented Premier Bob Carr

1997          Nomination, Pascall Prize for Critical Writing

1994          Adrian Ashton Award for Architectural Writing 


1992          Commendation, Pascall Award for Critical Writing


1992-1994  Australian Postgraduate Research Award for PhD studies, University of Sydney


1991           CICA International Award for Architectural Criticism (Paris)


1982           Auckland University Postgraduate Scholarship for PhD study (deferred)


1981           Fowlds Prize in Architecture (best student design work over all, final year)


1981           James Hardie & Co. Pty Ltd Bursary in Architecture (Best Design Student, Year III)


1980           Monier Design Award (profession-to-student award for design of commercial/retail premises)


1980           NZ Institute of Architects Prize for 3rd Year Design excellence


1980           Senior Prize in Architecture (best year III student over all)


1978           NZ Institute of Architects Prize (Design)


1976           Auckland University Annual Prize in Philosophy (departmental award for best student over all)


1976           Federation of University Women’s Prize in Classical Studies (Dunedin)


1975           Stuart Prize for English Literature, University of Otago (Dunedin)


1974           awarded places at both NZ medical schools (Universities of Auckland and Otago); declined


1974           NZ University Grants Committee Junior Scholarship (top high school distinction, for tenure at university)



Writer, Editor, Critic


1988 - present                 Professional Critic

               Weekly critical column for the Sydney Morning Herald on architecture, urban design and planning (publications list attached)

              Regular essays in Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald.

             Articles also in The Age, the Bulletin, the Architecture Bulletin, Architecture Australia, Architectural Theory Review, Interior Design, Pol Oxygen and Monument. And in international journals including:

  Architectural Record (New York); Architectural Design (Moscow); Metropole (New York); Statement (The Hague); Bauwelt (Germany); The Architectural Review (London); The Architects’ Journal (London); New Zealand Herald, NZ Architect; Business Review Weekly (NZ).

In recognition of this contribution I have won;

  • 2002 Marion Mahony Award
  • 2002 Adrian Ashton Award
  • 2001 Pascall Prize for critical writing
  • 1997 nomination for the Pascall Prize for criticism
  • 1994 Adrian Ashton Award for Architectural Journalism, (Royal Australian Institute of Architects)
  • 1992 Pascall Prize for Critical Writing (commendation)
  • 1991 CICA (International Committee of Architectural Critics’) Triennial Award, Paris, for criticism/theory.


Three Houses by Glenn Murcutt, Phaidon Press (London) 1993 ‘Architecture in Detail’ series. Launched at Tusculum, November 1993, by the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. P.J. Keating and described as the “ultimately more satisfying”[1] of the Murcutt monographs, this book is in its fifth reprinting.


Blubberland; the dangers of happiness (UNSW Press & MIT Press) is a book on western living patterns, 2007.Blubberland is currently being translated into Korean.


House, a psychogeography of dwelling, in preparation

Media Appearances

As critic and commentator I participate regularly in radio and television programs on architectural, urban design, planning and public art issues. Such appearances have included:

  • All In the Mind (Natasha Mitchell) ABC Radio National
  • Creative Thinking (Geraldine Doogue) http://www.abc.net.au/rn/saturdayextra/stories/2009/2683304.htm
  • Life Matters (Richard Aedy) ABC RN
  • By Design (Alan Saunders)
  • ABC 702 Nightlife (Tony O’Dwyer)
  • Lateline (Kerry O’Brien)
  • Late Night Live (Philip Adams)
  • Arts Today (David Marr) ABC Radio National
  • Eastern suburbs community radio (Sylvia Rosenblum)
  • Mike Carlton’s Drive Time 2BL
  • Frank Crooks’ show ABC Radio National
  • Margaret Throsby program ABC FM (RN) (August 2001)
  • Sally Loane, ABC 702 (04 Sept 2001)
  • BBC World Service (July  2001)
  • In the Mind of the Architect, ABC 1999


Public Lectures

Recent public lectures include:

  • Design and Health keynote, Melbourne 2011
  • Intelligent Design, EcoBuild Conference, London, March 2011
  • Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Opera House, 2010
  • IQ2 Big Ideas 'We've Seen the Future and It's Stupid', 16 Feb 2010 http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2010/02/16/2817127.htm
  • 'Blubberland' at Sydney Writers Festival 2009
  • East Circular Quay with Paul Keating and Richard Leplastrier at the Sydney Opera House 2008
  • Sydney Design Week launch 2007
  • World Cities Conference chair 2007
  • 'Fatburbs', Customs House 2006
  • 'Sanctuary' St johns Canberra 2005
  • 'Working Harbour', Sydney Town Hall, 2005
  • ‘Working the Harbour’, Sydney’s Working Harbour, with Paul Keating and Chris Johnson, 17 February 2004
  • ‘Arch I media; architecture media & fashion’ with Professors Mark Wigley (Columbia) and Beatriz Colomina (Princeton)        01 June 2004
  • ‘Criticism and the Arts,’ launch annual art exhibition SGHS  09 June 2004
  • ‘Visible Cities; Fear and Transparency in Urban Space’, (AGNSW Celebrity Series, Biennale Program 16 June 2004)
  • ‘The Power and the Glory; notions of beauty, art and populism in architecture’, UTS Spring lecture, 08 October 2003
  • ‘The Verge Practice,’ launch Barry Maitland novel at Gleebooks, 09 September 2003
  • ‘Me Prometheus’, launch of final-year exhibition, USyd Arch Faculty, Tin Sheds 27 November 2003
  • ‘Dreaming Spires; architecture and the learning game’, University of Sydney Colloquium Dinner 12 October 2002 http://sydney.edu.au/senate/historySesquiDinner.shtml
  • ‘Women in Architecture’, Marion Mahony Griffin lecture, Tusculm 14 October 2002
  • ‘Architecture, Democracy, Chaos; the strange, strange story of East Circular Quay’, 2002 Walter Burley Griffin Lecture, Canberra, 17 October 2002
  • ‘East Circular Quay, an urban parable,’ USyd Thursday Night Lecture series, 19 September 2002
  • ‘City of Imagination’, address to the Sydney Institute, 03 September 2001


I have also been the subject of profiles in;

  • Urbis (Australasia)
  • Time (Australia);
  • New Zealand Architect;
  • Cross-Section;
  • Australian Architectural Review;
  • Australian Geographic.


Design Juror

My involvement as a juror in design competitions and awards includes:

  • Design on the Edge, Ideas compeition, Parramatta 2011
  • Parramatta Design Excellence Awards 2005
  • Juror, Sydney 2020 Vision masterclass, Sydney Town Hall 24 August 2004
  • Scholarship Selector, Arups, 2001
  • Chair of jury for inaugural Australia Award for Urban Design 1998
  • juror Architecture Association (Auckland) Design Awards 1997
  • juror  BHP Australian Steel Awards 1995
  • juror Royal Australian Institute of Architects Awards 1991


1985 – 1987         Assistant Editor of The Architectural Review; a post previously held by John Betjeman, Osbert Lancaster, Nikolaus Pevsner and Reyner Banham.


Curator and Guest-Editor of ‘The New Spirit’, August 1986 issue of The Architectural Review, which generated significant debate and correspondence internationally.

‘The New Spirit’ won the Paris-based CICA (International Committee of Architectural Critics’) Triennial Award (1991).



2006                           Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney


2005                           External Examiner, COFA Masters of Fine Arts degree, UNSW


2004                           Lecturer ‘Writing Architecture’ elective, University of Sydney, Semester II


2004                           Guest Lecturer, ‘Theory Analysis and Architecture’ core subject 4th year UTS Semester I


1997                           PhD, The Sydney Height of Buildings Story, University of Sydney


1991 – 1997                Occasional invited theory and criticism lectures to architecture, planning and environmental law students, undergraduate and post-graduate, at UTS, Sydney Uni and UNSW.


1997                           Voted ‘Best Lecturer’ by Year 5 Theory students at the University of Sydney.


1991                           Visiting Critic appointment, Department of Architecture, University of Sydney; specially-created post giving critical overview to all design classes in a studio situation.


1989 - 1991                Running studio units at USyd, UNSW and UTS


1989 – 1991                Theory/ criticism lectures at USyd, UNSW and UTS

2001 - 2005                 Conference papers highlights

Recent conference papers include:

  • Adelaide Festival of Ideas 2011
  • Planning with Altitude, keynote address to Planning Institute Conference Toowoomba 2011
  • Intelligent Design, Ecobuild London 2011
  • Design and Health,  Melbourne 2011
  • ‘Fatburbs’ (Futurenet 09th March 2006)
  • ‘Cities, Chaos & Post-suburbia’; University of Western Sydney, 22 November 2005
  • ‘Redfern Waterloo; what other Eden?’; address to Independent Scholars Association symposium on Redfern (State Library April 2005) http://www.independentscholars.asn.au/publications/papers.htm
  • ‘Meaning in Public Space’, COFA Spring Seminar 10, UNSW,  Sept 2004;
  • ‘Beauty, Exclusionism and Stuff; The Basis of Community?’ keynote address to City Living; Creating Sydney’s Sustainable Communities conference, Museum of Sydney, 31 October 2003
  • ‘The Gap’ address to IDEA Interior Design Institute conference ‘Between Excess and Austerity’, UTS 08 August 2003;
  • ‘East Circular Quay, an urban parable’, New Zealand Institute of Architects conference Wellington 07 October 2002 (also delivered in Auckland 08 October 2002);
  • 'Dreaming Spires' University of Sydney Sesquicentenary Dinner 12th October 2002 http://sydney.edu.au/senate/historySesquiDinner.shtml#Farrelly
  • ‘Urban Design; difference or dogma?’ Urban Design Forum keynote address, Newcastle, 24 November 2001


1991 - 1997                 Doctorate

                                   PhD, University of Sydney (Faculty of Architecture), 1997. Thesis entitled:

The Sydney Height of Buildings Story: an examination of the intellectual, cultural and political background to development control in Sydney city centre 1900-1960

(supervisor Prof. Peter Webber)


1991-93                      Australian Postgraduate Research Award


1987                           Visiting Lecturer at the Auckland University School of Architecture (three months, theory lectures and design teaching.

1984 – 1987                A number of lectures and tutorials at various tertiary institutions in Britain including the Royal College of Arts, London; Humberside Polytechnic and the Architectural Association, London.

Urban Design / Architecture Practitioner


As an urban practitioner I have worked on a large range of major city projects in design, project management and leadership roles.

2011     Member Integrated Design Advisory Board, advising the Premier of South Australia

2011    Governing Architect, ANSTO preparing urban design guidelines for Lucas heights campus

2011    Art Director, Winterlight Festival, Parramatta
2011   Guest Critic, Landcom


1998 – 2000:     Manager, Special Projects, City of Sydney

Managing a small, diverse unit (including an architect, a barrister, an economist, and a transport engineer). It was designed as a quick-response group in the lead-up to the 200 Olympics, with strategic capability over a wide range of issues including:

  • Museum of Contemporary Art project;
  • City Mapping (including underground map project);
  • Urban research projects (cultural, design and economic);
  • downtown traffic & traffic-perception management;
  • development & publication of the City’s 30-year strategic “vision” documents Living City Beyond 2000 (winner of the 1999 RAPI Excellence in Planning Award for the City of Sydney).
  • publication of the City of Sydney Yearbook;
  • strategic economic research, analysis and publication;
  • servicing the Global Sydney Committee, aimed at positioning Sydney globally and chaired by Deputy LM;
  • production of City’s global statistics, quarterly city-performance reports and Corporate Plan.


Research: research, analysis and production of a number of papers delivered by the Lord Mayor at;

  • Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Living Sydney: Remaking the Connections) October 1999;
  • UCLA, (Linking Asia, Europe and America: Sydney as a Global City) October 1999;
  • Mayors World Summit, Paris, 16-17 March 2000.


1995 – 1998:      Manager, Planning & Development, UTS


This position involved management and coordination of the design and planning improvements across the University’s three main campuses, as well as the provision of advice to the University on capital management, property acquisition and development for faculty and residential use, and the establishment of a new facilities-management database and information system for the University.

In this role I initiated and managed a number of significant projects, including:

  • Ultimo rail corridor pedestrian link (with UTS, SIT, ABC) to benefit entire southern city
  • Strategic design proposals and feasibility for purchase of the former Fairfax building on Broadway
  • Strategic plan for the UTS city campus
  • Design improvements to Broadway front of UTS tower


1991-1995         Sydney City Councillor (Independent)

As a member of this team I was instrumental in fundamental reforms including:

  • re-assessment of the Council’s approach to urban and civic design in the city
  • implementation of organisational change
  • appointment of a new General Manager and executive team
  • restructuring the organisation for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

A primary objective for me as a City Councillor was to improve the quality of the city’s public spaces, as affected both by the design of the space itself and by the quality of the buildings that define it. Achievements from this period include:


·  Established City Projects Division

  • Chair Projects and Public Spaces Committee
  • Chair Civic Design Sub-Committee
  • Member Central Sydney Planning Committee
  • Member City of Sydney Planning Committee
  • Member Minister’s Urban Design Task Force
  • Wrote Ultimo-Pyrmont position paper 1993
  • Member East Circular Quay Project Control Group
  • Member Customs House ProjectControl Group
  • Member Capitol Theatre Management Policy Board
  • Expert witness in test case for Ultimo
  • Dispute Resolution Course
  • Developed; City Laneways Policy, Street Furniture Policy, Street Planting Policy, Heritage List, Paving Policy


1994                Urban Design Conference NYC and Study Tour

In October 1994 I was the City’s delegate to two urban design/planning conferences in New York City. These were;

  • Urbanism II: The Next New York examining the role of public/private sector partnerships in the achievement of urban design objectives
  • New York in the Global Arena, organised by the American Planning Association.


1983 – 1985 UK:         Assistant Architect, Pollard Thomas and Edwards Architects, London (working on Royal Docks redevelopment)


1982 – 1984 NZ:          Assistant Architect, JASMaD Architects, Auckland (designing new Waikato Art Museum, Hamilton)


1980 NZ:                     Architectural Assistant, Warren and Mahoney, Christchurch (working on new Wellington Town Hall)



1978 – 1982 NZ:          Undergraduate studies in Architecture, School of Architecture, University of Auckland (graduating B. Arch (hons)).


1975 – 1976 NZ:          Medical Intermediate study at University of Otago (Dunedin), and University of Auckland: Philosophy, Classical Studies, Mathematics, English Lit.: A average. Many student prizes, including the University Prize in Philosophy.



[1] Paul Glassman, NY School of Interior Design, NY

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