Vale Bruce Raymond Medek
1965 - 2022
Bruce Medek was born in Brisbane. His father, Raymond Edward, was a panelbeater and chauffeur; his mother, Mavis Irene, was a businesswoman. Matriculating from Mansfield State High School, Medek completed an associate diploma in built environment from the then Queensland Institute of Technology (1985) and immediately enrolled in QIT’s six-year part-time Bachelor of Architecture Course. After three years, he travelled with colleagues to the UK, working for Lister Drew Haines Barrow and experiencing architecture firsthand across Europe and North America. Returning in 1990 to complete his degree, he graduated with honours in 1993, achieving registration the following year and also meeting Maree, a music pedagogue, choral conductor and répétiteur who would become his wife.
Medek had already accumulated extensive architectural experience with Phillips Smith Conwell (1984–88) and Guymer Bailey Architects (1990–95). Tim Guymer and Ralph Bailey embraced his pioneering ethos of design for sustainable development, and his roles included the kindergarten, villas and staff facilities for Kingfisher Bay Resort. Completed in 1992 on the sensitive ecology of Fraser Island, this was an environmental and sustainability exemplar, winning the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ FDG Stanley Award for Public Architecture and a National Award for Commercial Architecture.
In 1995, Medek and Jim Gall founded Gall and Medek Architects (1995–2009). Medek’s passion for “critical social infrastructure” was reflected in the masterplan for the Burnett Youth Learning Centre, Bundaberg, and the administration, agriculture, hospitality and trade, and technical buildings delivered over the next eight years.
Quickly attracting peer recognition, Gall and Medek’s Queensland RAIA awards included the Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture (2004), the FDG Stanley Award for Public Architecture (2004), and the Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing (2001 and 2009). They received a Certificate of Merit in the Royal Australian Planning Institute’s National Award for Planning Excellence (2002), the Planning Institute Australia’s Award for Planning Excellence in housing (2007), and the BPN Environ Sustainability Award for high-density residential (2007). In 2007, they were placed second internationally in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ “Building a Sustainable World: Life in the Balance” competition” (2007).
In 2005, Gall and Medek celebrated their decade milestone – not with an event or glossy marketing publication, but with Bruce and Jim combining their interests in sustainability, social responsibility and community by producing a cookbook printed on recycled office stationery. It is notable for the introduction featuring Bruce’s signature dry observations.
Following Gall and Medek’s 2009 dissolution, Medek held senior positions with prominent Brisbane firms Bureau Proberts (2009–13) and BSPN Architecture (2020–23). From 2011 to 2020, he practised as Medek Architecture.
Serving the Institute with unparalleled distinction, Medek was Queensland convener of the Practice of Architecture Learning Series (2004–08), a member of the National Practice Committee (2006–08) and the National Contracts Consultative Committee (2010–13), chair of the Brisbane Regional Awards program (2002) and Chapter President (2008–10). As the youngest chapter president ever elected in Queensland, Medek was awarded a life fellowship in 2017.
Equally outstanding was Medek’s service to the Board of Architects of Queensland. Appointed 12 months before his election as chapter president in 2007, he represented the Board on the State Visiting Panel for the accreditation of QUT (twice), Griffith University and the University of Queensland. He remained the Institute’s representative from 2010 to 2013, and in 2013 was returned as Architect Elected Member. He became Board Chair in 2018 and served continuously until stepping down in 2022.
Medek oversaw the digital transformation of the Board’s services, extending service delivery statewide, introducing electronic voting, and providing time-saving systems for architects. Through genuine open consultation with architects, he and the Board increased both responsiveness and financial resilience, demonstrating how a contemporary administrative organization can improve services and add value. He represented the Board at the Ministerial Construction Council and contributed significantly to the government’s requests for information for the Shergold Weir Report Building Confidence: Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia. Medek reinstated the conferring ceremony where new architects are formally presented with registration certificates, enhanced recognition of the profession’s most venerable members with pins for architects attaining 50 years of registration and commenced planning for the Board’s centenary celebrations. In keeping with his personal and professional commitment to a healthy, sustainable environment, Medek was also a Board member for Keep Australia Beautiful, Queensland (2009–13).
Medek’s service – to the profession, the Institute, the Board of Architects of Queensland and the community – was acknowledged with the Institute’s 2022 Queensland Chapter President’s Prize. His work, his interests and achievements in practice, his advocacy for the profession, his mentoring, his passion for sustainability and his promotion of the public interest all reflect a lifelong ethic of applied social responsibility. The breadth and depth of his engagement illustrate that he had both the capacity to see where action was required, and the commitment to apply his considerable skills and talent – quietly, without fanfare, over decades – in a deeply selfless campaign directed solely toward advancing the public good.
This is the legacy he leaves us. Medek is survived by his widow Maree, and his sons Oscar and Theo.
https://architectureau.com/articles/vale-bruce-medek-1965-2022/ Contributed by Alice Hampson and Michael Lavery.