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The Autumn edition of the Bulletin has in recent years been dedicated to heritage. This time we expand this idea to mark the extraordinary achievements of the Government Architect’s Office, which for 200 years has shaped the built fabric of New South Wales.

This year marks the bicentenary of the Government Architect’s Office and a rolling series of events called GAO200+. However, it is also a year of significant transformation for the office as it moves away from an active design office into a more nimble strategic advice office. We could not let such an important change occur without critical reflection.

Shaun Carter speaks with the current Government Architect Peter Poulet about the transition and downsizing of the Government Architect’s Office (GAO) into the Office of the Government Architect (OGA) and the move to the Department of Planning.

In reviewing the recent exhibition Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW, at the State Library, Andrew Nimmo reflects on the role of the office over 200 years and how the current changes were seeded nearly 30 years ago.

We asked each of our living past Government Architects, Lindsey Kelly, Peter Webber, Chris Johnson and Peter Mould, to pen a short piece on their experiences in the role and what they saw as their key achievements. Andrew Andersons, Assistant Government Architect during the giddy celebrations of the Bicentenary, muses on the relationship between GAO and Government. Helen Lochhead, another Assistant Government Architect, writes on the role of GAO in providing strategic advice.

With the assistance of Matthew Devine, we have assembled a 200-year timeline of the GAO mapping its life and times.

Dillon Kombumerri reflects on the achievements of Merrima, the Indigenous Design Unit within the GAO. Philip Thalis reminds us of the role of the GAO and laments the retreat from undertaking actual projects. Noni Boyd looks at the GAO’s early work in regional NSW under Vernon’s guidance and his innovative application of passive environmental design principals.

Finally, Natalie Lane-Rose and Monica Edwards check in on the Champions of Change one year on.

Andrew Nimmo
Chair of the Editorial Committee
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