The Eye of the Fish

June 2, 2014

Boffa Miskell

It’s not often that architecture gets a mention in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list – even less often that Landscape Architects do. Today, however, that was changed – both Frank Boffa (Dr Francis Dion Boffa, apparently), and Donald Miskell were honored with an ONZM (Officer of the Order of New Zealand). Great news – hearty congratulations guys – about time that the considerable efforts of Boffa Miskell over the years are recognized. I’m not sure – is that the first time ever that Landscape Architecture has been recognized here?

Boffa Miskell have of course been contributors to a lot more than just landscape recently – the company is, as far as I am aware, the key coordinator of all the creative talent going into turning Christchurch from a wasteland into a somewhere land. It’s a hard ask for anyone, and I’m not really in a position to say whether it is working yet, or working at all. From a distance, certainly doesn’t seem to be happening at all yet. Which makes this award even more interesting – if nothing is happening yet, then the award seems a little premature for recognition of Canterbury.

Another award, again, thoroughly deserving, is the elevation of Sir Ron Carter to the Order of New Zealand. That’s our equivalent of “Greatest Living Treasure” which, in our egalitarian society, is fairly high praise indeed. It’s also the highest ever accolade given to an Engineer – and my guess is that it is also a reward and thank you to Carter for his work on the Royal Commission into the Canterbury Earthquakes. Not sure what has happened to the awards for fellow commission member Prof Richard Fenwick and commission head Mark Cooper, but then governments move in curious ways.

3 - 06 - 14

Nice pat on the back… The hard work put in always comes with brickbats but these guys have had a big part to play.

A pity no architects are seen as worthy for their work in Christchurch. A sure sign that the profession has been sidelined. Or maybe something to aspire to… a pity only one firm has almost all the work! The pressure is on.

3 - 06 - 14

Denny – seeing as the rebuild has only just started, everybody having been sitting on their hands for much of the last two or three years, I wouldn’t be expecting to see any rewards for architects involved in Christchurch yet. Probably not for a long time yet. The Justice Precinct, which is the big kumura down in ChCh, when it is eventually built, as I presume it would be, probably stands a good chance of getting the leading lights a gong or two. But that is, in a way, still just a standard commercial project. To be really worthy of an Order, the person needs to have done things more worthy of the greater good. Personally, I would nominate the promulgator or designer of the ReStart Container Mall or Shigeru Ban having done more for ChCh than, for instance, Mr Marryot, Mr Parker, or Bishop Matthews.

Thinking back to the days of Napier, I don’t recall news of any of the architects involved in the Rebuild there, getting any kinds of Honours awards. You’re right Denny – the government has never appreciated architects, or architecture.