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The Impact of the James Allison Scholarship Through the Eyes of Thriving Recipients

Former James Allison Grant winner Liam Moroney (right) with this year’s winner, Samuel Shute

James Allison was a University of South Australia alumnus and experienced architect. James joined COX in 2010 and specialised in sports architecture, working as a team leader on the Adelaide Oval Redevelopment, Optus Stadium, Allianz Stadium, Queensland Country Bank Stadium and was Project Architect on the WACA Media Centre.

Sadly, James passed away in 2020 after an eighteen-month battle with leukemia. He is remembered for his technical excellence, his commitment and leadership, his generosity of spirit, and his big old laugh. He was a sportsman, a friend, a family man and an exceptional designer.

In 2021, COX and the Allison family established the James Allison Memorial Architecture Grant through UniSA to honour his life and enthusiasm for the architectural profession. The grant supports emerging talent through financial support and a placement with COX.

So far, the grant has been awarded to three students, Liam Moroney (2021), Katie Nomikos (2022) and this year’s recipient, Samuel Shute. Both Liam and Katie now work at COX as Graduates of Architecture. Liam continues to work in our Adelaide Studio, with Katie moving to Melbourne and continuing her work with COX there. We sat down with Liam and Katie to understand the opportunities the grant has given them…

Reflecting on your time as a student at COX, what would you consider the most valuable lesson(s) you learned?

LM: Throughout my time as a student, I grasped a key lesson in the significance of effective communication. Observing designers around me who expressed genuine passion in their work not only captured my attention but allowed me to foster a deeper understanding of what architects really do. This has motivated me to hone my communication skills, whether through the tactile artistry of sketching or the verbal skills required during meetings and collaboration with other designers.

KN: While University equips you with the foundational skills for entering the workforce, the real work begins when you start your practical experience. Delving into the intricacies of construction, client needs, and user experiences, I have learnt to comprehend the rationale behind specific designs, drawings, and diagrams, unravelling the complexities of the real-world application of theoretical knowledge.

When it came to accepting a job with COX, what made you want to continue your journey with us?

LM: The office culture and work ethic in the studio left a lasting impression on me. The warm welcome from everyone, coupled with their genuine passion for design and the industry, created an inspiring environment I still benefit from today. I was particularly impressed by the calibre of projects that COX pursues and engages graduates in, providing valuable opportunities to work and learn on significant large-scale work.

KM: What resonated with me was the seamless integration of the studio ethos into the fabric of architectural practice, going beyond a ‘slogan.’ The cultural aspect also played a pivotal role in my decision, and something I continue to enjoy since starting in the Melbourne Studio.

What areas of architecture are you particularly interested in exploring or developing further in your career?

LM: I’m excited about delving into opportunities within the sports sector. I believe sports infrastructure and design has a powerful ability to bring communities together. This field demands skill sets that are scalable and versatile, capable of translating into projects of varying sizes and purposes, from community sport to major stadia. Given COX’s history in shaping sports infrastructure across Australia and the world, I look forward to exploring this space further throughout my career.

KN: My journey at COX has afforded me the privilege to contribute to diverse projects spanning various sectors. Throughout my time working on Adelaide Botanic High School, I discovered a passion for educational architecture. This newfound interest is something I am keen to delve deeper into.

What advice do you have for current architecture students?

LM: Studying architecture is a pressure-cooker, so you naturally become very close to your peers. Many of my closest friendships were forged during uni. My advice is to embrace the challenge by pushing both yourself and those around you to design beyond your comfort zone. While the latter years may predominately involve individual work, it’s essential to understand that architecture is a collaborative endeavour – if you can create a space in-which you can trust those around you to both encourage and critique you, there’s so much more space to grow.

KN: Don’t stop learning! Borrow those books from the library your tutor suggested and get that architectural magazine subscription.

Adam Hannon

Katie Nomikos

Liam Moroney

Zoë King