Chrystall Excellence Award

The Chrystall excellence Award is a celebration of those women who have led expanded and full careers in architecture over several decades. A major focus of this career award is recognition of excellence in a body of workleadership, and contribution to the community through mentorship. The award takes into account the broad range of areas to which women often contribute, within and around the architectural profession. We want to celebrate and give visibility to women who are leading the way as diverse role models who may inspire younger generations and students alike.

Judging criteria will be based on;

•      Evidence of outstanding architectural design talent

•      Evidence of leadership in the architectural community and/or wider communities of involvement

•      Evidence of team leadership and management skills

•      Evidence of working well in collaboration: partnerships, teams of all sizes and diversities (eg a cross section of people from a variety of areas, which may include trades, institutions, academic, business, social groupings, ages, cultures etc.)

•      Mentoring relationships are identified

•      Ability to identify and locate the ‘body of work’ into a wider context (of New Zealand and International Architecture)

•      Evidence of a positive work/life balance to role model to following generation

Entry Criteria:

•      The Chrystall Excellence Award is open to all who are on A+W•NZ web database who have had a full career, and to all women working in and around architecture pre-1972, who may not be on the database.

•      Entry for the Chrystal/ Excellence Award is by nomination. The nominator does not need to be a member of the A+W•NZ database.

•      Entrants may nominate themselves or be nominated by another person or group /practice.

•      Nominations can be for an individual or a Practice/Collective.

•      Exclusions: the A+W•NZ core Awards Team are not eligible for nomination (refer A+W•NZ website ‘Awards’ page for non­eligible members).




The FIVE FINALISTS for the Chrystall Excellence Award;
(in alphabetical order)
Robin Allison (Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood)
Fiona Christeller (architecture FCA)
Deborah Cranko (Cranko Architects)
Anne Salmond (Salmond Architecture)
Christina van Bohemen (Sills van Bohemen Architects)



The FIVE FINALISTS for the Chrystall Excellence Award;
(in alphabetical order)
Jane Aimer and Lindley Naismith (Scarlet Architects)
Clare Athfield (Athfield Architects)
Megan Edwards (Megan Edwards Architects)
Briar Green (Pearson and Associates)
Sarah Treadwell (retired, The University of Auckland)



Finalists - Chrystall Excellence Award 2014:

Min Hall

Gina Jones

Lindy Leuschke

Sarah Scott

Julie Stout


The Awards are named for women who have had a considerable influence on New Zealand architecture;

Lillian Chrystall, who has lent her name to the Excellence Award, practiced architecture continuously for 60 years, initially in London and Paris, and in Auckland from the 1950s to 2012. 

A graduate of Architecture from the University College of Auckland and Fellow of the NZIA, Lillian has practiced almost continuously for six decades while bringing up three children alongside her architect husband and partner in practice, David Chrystall.  Following graduation in 1948, Lillian worked for a brief period in Wellington before a return to Auckland to teach second year as part of Vernon Brown’s studio – the first woman on the teaching staff.  Two years later she travelled to Europe, working first with Hungarian Erno Goldfinger, mostly on post-war reconstruction work in London followed by a position with Andre Sive in Paris.  Lillian returned to New Zealand in her late twenties, immediately starting her own practice, Lillian Laidlaw Architect.  Her first employee being David Chrystall who she later married, setting up partnership Chrystall Architects in 1958.  Their house on Airedale Street was a short five minute walk from their Symonds Street studio and became a gathering place for a lively clan of architects.  David Mitchell, then a second year architecture student, answered their ad for a babysitter and ended up working in the office - “the scene around their dining table was a real blast”.   Her partnership with David was a successful one.  Chrystall Architects work ranged across commercial, education and residential with Lillian gaining an NZIA National Bronze Medal for the Yock House, Remuera in 1967.  “The house is a brilliant essay in assured simplicity. It succeeds without affectation, but with tremendous subtlety and sensitivity… direct and elegant detailing in NZ terms.. A difficult site intertwined to advantage by form and placing of the house and superbly controlled landscaping”.  In the 1980’s, after 25 years working together, Lillian commented “Had we worked on the same designs it would have been intolerable.  But we didn’t.  We each have our own work”.  As a long time city dweller, Lillian has been an urban advocate along with Bill Wilson & Co. for pedestrian friendly space in Kartoum Place and Vulcan Lane.  While a reluctant star, Lillian has undoubtedly generated a significant body of work, influenced many and contributed to the NZIA and city environment in a both a pragmatic and uncontroversial manner.  With her retirement in 2012, following a 64 year career Lillian is one of New Zealand’s most enduring and talented practitioners.  In conversation with Lindley Naismith in 2004, Lillian said her greatest reward is still to be found in a client’s expression of pleasure, sometimes many years later, in what she has done.  “It’s still exciting to come to work every Monday and I regret going home at weekends to clean the house”.