The role of the Government Architect

The Government Architect has responsibility for leading the activities of the Government Architect NSW (GANSW) including developing and maintaining relationships across Government. The Government Architect performs several statutory roles including delegated responsibility for the Department’s design excellence functions.

The Government Architect (or delegate) chairs the State Design Review Panel and also sits on numerous boards and review panels including Central Sydney Planning Committee, the NSW Architect’s Registration Board, NSW Heritage Council and Sydney Opera House Conservation Council. They also sit on numerous state and local government design review panels.

Ben Hewett is the Acting Government Architect working alongside the executive team to lead the activities of GANSW:

  • Olivia Hyde, Acting Deputy Government Architect/ Director of Design Excellence
  • Paulo Macchia, Director Design Governance
  • Marissa Looby, Acting Director Integrated Design

Note: Minister Rob Stokes announced the appointment of Abbie Galvin to be the 24th Government Architect on 1 October 2019.

In the interim the role of Acting Government Architect is being shared by members of the existing executive team. Olivia Hyde led the team October 2018 to March 2019 with Ben Hewett continuing to act in the role.

Government Architect NSW Team

The GANSW team represents a wide range of expertise and diverse experiences.

Members of the team include:

  • Alicia Pozniak, Senior Design Advisor
  • Angus Bell, Senior Design Advisor
  • Barbara Schaffer, Principal Design & Green Infrastructure
  • Carol Marra, Senior Design Advisor
  • Caroline Peta Comino, Senior Design Advisor
  • Diana Snape, Acting Principal Design Advisor
  • Darlene van der Breggen, Principle Design Review Precincts
  • Dillon Kombumerri, Principal Design & Country
  • Emma Kirkman, Principle Design Review
  • Gabriela Heesh, Executive Assistant to Government Architect
  • Gail Fletcher, Project Officer Design Review
  • George Savoulis, Senior Design Advisor
  • Jane Threlfall, Principal Design & Guidance
  • Jillian Hopkins, Acting Principle Design Management
  • Marc Lane, Principle Integrated Frameworks
  • Melizza Morale, Senior Design Advisor
  • Media Hakim, Design Officer
  • Michael Holt, Acting Principle Design & Research
  • Michelle Washington, Principal Policy & Partnerships
  • Nagham Al Katta, Team Coordinator
  • Rory Toomey, Principal Design Excellence
A group photo of the GANSW team.

Image Credit: GANSW

Ben Hewett, Acting Government Architect

Ben Hewett is currently Acting Government Architect and Adjunct Professor at University of Technology Sydney. In his substantive role, Ben leads the office’s strategic services, including the development and implementation of the Better Placed policy, and Strategic Frameworks.

Previously, Ben was the inaugural South Australian Government Architect and Executive Director of the Integrated Design Commission and the subsequent Office for Design and Architecture SA. During this period, Ben was also Director of “5000+, an Integrated Design Strategy for inner Adelaide”, which was a national pilot project collaborating across three tiers of government, industry, academia and communities, to develop a design-based vision for Adelaide and model for urban development. Ben also established, led, and chaired South Australia’s Design Review Program.

Ben was a Senior Lecturer with the University of Technology Sydney, leading the Professional Practice stream and numerous design studios. Ben has professional experience across small, medium and commercial architectural practice in Australia, China and Dubai.

Olivia Hyde, Acting Deputy Government Architect/ Director of Design Excellence

Olivia Hyde is Director of Design Excellence and Acting Deputy Government Architect at GANSW (Government Architect NSW). She is a registered architect, with diverse private sector experience on projects locally and internationally. In her role with GANSW Olivia leads the development of a range of measures to support and promote greater design quality in the built environment across the state, including most recently the pilot State Design Review Panel.

Olivia has studied, worked and taught in Australia, the USA, Asia and Europe. Prior to joining GANSW she was a Senior Practice Director at BVN Architects in Sydney and worked for Foster and Partners in Hong Kong and London. In addition to practise, Olivia has taught locally and internationally at the University of Michigan, where she won a teaching and research fellowship, and has been a regular contributing writer for Architecture Australia.

Paulo Macchia, Director Design Governance

Paulo is responsible for the development of systemic organisational and lifecycle approaches to assure design quality and leads GANSW’s partnership with the Land and Housing Corporation, establishing and chairing the LAHC Centre for Design.

He also leads GANSW’s strategic approach to procurement. Encompassing the role of design in business cases and funding decisions, through to the procurement of built environment professionals by NSW Government agencies, including the development and management of the Government Architect’s Strategy and Design Prequalification Scheme.

Paulo is a registered architect and recipient of the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship. He has taught and been a guest critic at the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and the University of Newcastle. He has also served on industry award and Design Excellence juries and is an alternate Chair of the NSW State Design Review Panel.

Marissa Looby, Acting Director Integrated Design

Marissa is acting in the role of Acting Director Integrated Design, exploring the role and value of design in the built environment and supporting the development of strategic priorities for GANSW as part of the GANSW Executive team. In her substantive role as Principal of Design & Research for GANSW she has championed research on place and design quality, healthy built environments, and integrated design processes. She has supported the delivery of much of the organisation’s policy and guidance.

Marissa is a NSW Registered Architect, and has practiced in Sydney and New York. Prior to joining GANSW, Marissa worked on large public, transport and retail projects. She graduated with a B.Architecture from the University of Technology Sydney in 2006, and the Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, New York in 2010.

New role for Peter Poulet, 23rd NSW Government Architect

Peter Poulet resigned as the 23rd NSW Government Architect in September 2018 following his appointment as the Central City District Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) by NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge his enormous contribution to the role of the State’s Government Architect and, previously, for more than 20 years across several senior and executive positions in the former Government Architect’s Office.

Peter led the shift of the role of the 200-year-old organisation from designing projects to providing independent, strategic advice and championing the need for good design in the built environment. Most notably, Peter spearheaded the development of the State’s first design policy Better Placed: An Integrated Design Policy for the Built Environment of New South Wales. He also championed the inclusion of a new object in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, to stipulate ‘good design and amenity’ as distinct and imperative. Under Peter’s guidance, GANSW has produced the draft green infrastructure policy Greener Places: An Urban Green Infrastructure Policy for New South Wales, and established the NSW State Design Review Panel pilot program.