The Value of Architecture and Architects

Four Presentations and a Discussion
This event, organised by Alan Jones, took place on Thursday 31st May 2012 in the MAC, Cathedral Quarter Belfast. Audio files are available from the links below.

Introduction (Alan Jones)

Alastair Hall
From competition to reality

Alastair studied architecture at Queen’s University, Belfast and Cambridge University and upon graduation he worked with Grafton Architects in Dublin before returning to Belfast where he was one of the founding partners of the practice Hackett Hall McKnight. Alastair has taught and lectured in Queen’s University, Belfast, been a Guest Critic at Queen’s University, the University of Ulster, Dublin Institute of Technology and University College Dublin Schools of Architecture. In addition, he is one of five co-authors of ‘Modern Ulster Architecture’ and has contributed to Architectural Research Quarterly. Alastair’s area of expertise and previous experience includes work on theatres, galleries, leisure centres, private housing, residential and commercial developments.

 Anne McReynolds
A reflection on commissioning, creating and using the MAC

Anne McReynolds is Chief Executive of The MAC (The Metropolitan Arts Centre), Belfast’s new £18million arts centre located in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.  Anne is currently a Trustee of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and a member of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Steering Group. She was recently appointed by the UK Minister of State for Culture as a Trustee of The Theatres Trust, an Independent Advisory Body charged with protecting and preserving theatres throughout the UK.  Prior to her current role, Anne was the Director of the Old Museum Arts Centre in Belfast which was a cultural lifeline for Northern Ireland for more then two decades. She also held positions with the Belfast Festival at Queen’s and Belfast Community Circus and was one of the co-founders of the Belfast Children’s Festival and a Trustee of Upstate Theatre, Drogheda.  A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where she studied English Language and Literature, Anne also holds post-graduate qualifications in Law & Business and Cultural Management from the University of Ulster.

Elanor Warwick
Research and the practice of architecture

Elanor is an architect and urban designer with over ten years in practice designing houses, schools and health buildings in the public and private sector. While working as an architect she maintained a close association with academia through working as a Research Fellow at UCL, and studying city design and social science at the LSE. Elanor was Head of Research at the CABE for eight years, and is now a part-time Doctoral research student at Kings College London, exploring the translation of the concept of defensible space between research, policy and practice. Her thesis explores the movement of ideas between policy, research and practice. Elanor engages with similar issues leading to the creation and translation of accessible and influential research in her professional practice, currently working with UCL, Cambridge University, and for the Technology Strategy Board. Elanor is on the RIBA’s Research and Innovation committee, a member of the Edge, the Academy of Urbanism, and is a Building For Life assessor.

Shane O’Toole
The value of architecture and architects

Shane studied at University College Dublin, graduating 1979. Worked with Lynch O’Toole Walsh Architects (1979-86) and then as Project Manager at the Energy Research Group, University College Dublin (1986-91). Director of Group ’91 Architects. He has practised privately since 1991 and has been architect with Tegral Building Products since 1994. President of the AAI (1982-3) and Vice-President of the RIAL (1988). Founder of the Irish DoCoMoMo Working Party in 1991, he has received awards for his architectural work, including the Grand Prix at the Krakow Biennale (1989) and the AAI Downes Medal (1996). He has written widely on architectural subjects and curated the exhibitions ‘Collaboration: The Pillar Project’ (1988) and ‘Tales Prom Two Cities: Emerging Architects in Dublin and Edinburgh’. He has taught at University College Dublin and at the University of Edinburgh.  He was the architectural critic for the Sunday Times for many years and was co-editor, with Dr P Larmour of North by Northwest, a book on the life and work of Liam McCormick, which received a commendation from the International Committee of Architectural Cities (CICA) in their book awards for 2011, announced at the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress in Tokyo on 28th September 2011.

“This is more than a selection of individual architectural projects of merit. They, and many others like them, represent some of the more important values expressed in recent Irish architecture, ones that the architectural community in Leuven, Belgium, believes can also be of value to the mission of architecture in that country. So, here at home, let us never forget the enduring value we, as a profession, bring to our society, particularly at a time when the media generally would have us think that the only legacy of our recent endeavours is ghost estates and hubris humbled. History, like the future, is not so simple.”


(Photographs courtesy of Alan Jones)