Sydney, Australia – Professor Glenn Murcutt, Councillor HY William Chan and Jefa Greenaway have been celebrated by Australia’s national airline Qantas, which hosted its belated 100th anniversary gala dinner on 31 March 2023. The architects were recognized for their influential leadership on the Qantas 100 Inspiring Australians honour roll. The list features unsung heroes, national treasures, quiet achievers and game-changers across a variety of fields – from design to entrepreneurship, and arts and culture to philanthropy.
Qantas describes Murcutt, Chan and Greenaway as among the “extraordinary people who epitomize the spirit of Australia. These leaders represent the best of our country.”
In addition to Australian identity, the criteria for honourees were based on a track record of impact to Australia in a positive way, whether it be reshaping their industry, leaving a legacy or contributing to the nation through innovation and inspiration.
Australia’s only Pritzker Prize laureate Professor Glenn Murcutt is honoured at No.7 on the centenary list. His innovative and sustainable designs respond to the unique climate and landscape of Australia. The architect, lecturer and author is renowned for his use of local materials, attention to detail, and sensitivity to the natural environment, which has led to his buildings being celebrated as some of the most iconic and influential of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
“A thoughtful and considered man, who still designs by hand and doesn’t use a computer, Glenn creates buildings that reflect our identity as well as build on it,” said comedian and design buff Tim Ross. Murcutt’s work has not only had a profound impact on the field of architecture but has also helped to shape the Australian identity and deepen our understanding of the relationship between people, place, and culture.
While Councillor HY William Chan has earned a coveted spot as the No.19 most inspiring Australian. Dubbed “The Humanitarian” by Qantas, the youngest-ever independent elected for Sydney combines his experience as an architect in public office to improve the lives of urban dwellers by shaping resilient buildings and inclusive cities.
In their citation, Qantas says Chan’s leadership through the United Nations and World Economic Forum has a global platform but his dedication to empowerment through skill sharing has impact closer to home, too. “By using his expertise to help people in vulnerable communities, the urbanist is working to create social change.”
Chan’s collaborations with social housing tenants and renters resulted in increased energy-efficiency of new homes legislated in Australia’s building codes last year. In an Australian-first, he also successfully passed bold sustainability reforms through government with urban planning controls that achieve net-zero operational performance in architecture from 2026, empowering industry to lead the way on nature-based solutions and the circular economy.
Wailwan/Kamilaroi man Jefa Greenaway features at No.47 on the list as “The Groundbreaker”. Becoming the first Indigenous architect registered in Victoria in 2004, he co-founded Indigenous Architects Victoria to encourage more Indigenous Australians to pursue the profession. IAV is the only peak body that represents Indigenous built-environment practitioners.
Greenaway is redefining First Nations practice, particularly for the next generation of Indigenous architects. From elevating Indigenous perspectives into the public eye to supporting a First Nation’s voice in the architectural and design world, his contribution aims to decolonize the field of architecture and centre Indigenous voices in the design process. “Working alongside wife Cathy Drosinos at their firm, Greenaway Architects, he applies the history and stories of his cultural heritage to contribute a singular sensibility in the field,” Qantas said of Greenaway.
Greenaway emphasizes the role of architecture in shaping cultural identity and creating more inclusive built environments that respond to the unique needs of Indigenous communities.