Lahz Nimmo Architects
In a field cluttered with eccentric and vague personalities, Annabel Lahz is a welcomed breath of normalcy. Annabel, one-half of the successful Lahz Nimmo architectural team, is as unassuming as she is talented.
At a glance, the professions best fitting her image are an elementary school teacher, or English tutor in an Ivy-league prep school. Instead, Annabel is a design powerhouse credited with numerous architectural awards, not the least of which are: The Royal Australian Institute of Architects at both State and National levels for Residential, Commercial, Public Architecture, and Urban Design projects. This unsuspecting architect graduated from the University of Queensland with honours and received the Queensland Institute of Architects Medallion, the Board of Architects Prize and a University Medal.
In 1996, Lahz joined with Andrew Nimmo and the influential Australian design team was born. Andrew Nimmo cut his teeth as senior project architect for Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, an internationally respected firm based in Sydney. This experience afforded Nimmo the pedigree needed as he headed several high-profile projects for Tonkin, including: the Memorial to the Australian Vietnam Forces, the Rocks Square Development and the Macarthur Street Affordable Housing project. For his work he was awarded The Walter Burley Griffin Award for Civic Design, and the RAIA for The Rocks Square Development.
Nimmo is just as involved in architectural journalism and critique as he is building. Unlike many third party critics, who have not the talent or ability to produce what they are critiquing, Andrew is able to speak as a seasoned authority on the subject matter. The Lahz Nimmo duo proves that not only do opposites attract, they profit. The chemistry created from combining the quiet confidence of Annabel with the architectural apologetics of Andrew allows them to attract a broader range of projects.
If one had to pick a style of design and tag it to Lahz Nimmo it would be sophisticated-simple. One project that illustrates this tag is the beautifully deceptive Annandale House. This project required Lahz Nimmos to carefully assimilate two separate terraces into one property. The client wanted to combine both living areas and create a large-scale home. With the use of simple line creation, and zinc-clad to meld the two properties, Lahz Nimmo again far exceeded expectations. Another one of the most admired properties is the soft institutional design given to the Australian School of Business. Here the Lahz Nimmo design team combines four academic buildings into one. The idea reminds the onlooker more of an upscale mall than a business school. Its marble floors and interior materials give one a sense that a Saks Fifth is just around the corner from the vending machine.
Anyone watching the NBC Today Show during the 2000 Olympics was also viewing the handiwork of Lahz Nimmo as they designed the set from which the daily show was aired. Their current workload includes large-scale public and institutional projects, interior design, and elite residential projects for ultra-high-net-worth families. Collaborating and building bridges is the consistent theme of a Lahz Nimmo project. Such a diplomatic approach greatly influences the architect-client relationship and makes for a partnership rather than the all too frequent battle. The Lahz Nimmo team describes their building philosophy as being “underpinned by a consistent design process and philosophy, which promotes innovative project specific solutions responsive to their environment, budget and purpose.” In other words, they seek to join hands with the environment, not impose their idea upon it. Ahhh…, there’s that fresh air of normalcy again.
Gradually, people outside of the world of commercial property development are coming to the Lahz Nimmo party. More recently, they were selected in a competition to come up with the perfect spec home for a piece of oceanfront property on the Pacific near Kinglscliff in New South Wales. They produced the winning design and were the first to build on the newly developed site, an old sand mine. In true Lahz Nimmo style, the property used materials that would stand up to the wind and salt without harming the environment. Nimmo explains, “We used blue gum, a native hardwood, salvaged from an old railway bridge, for the battens and cladding. It was more expensive than new timber, but because builders tended to use mature trees back then, the color and grain are much more
stable than what you can find now,” he continues, “The wood is treated only with oil, which preserves its rich color and protects against ultraviolet rays.”
Lahz Nimmo will continue to expand their clientele and architectural influence on readers, students and critics alike. One cannot help but admire a team whose work is more of a work of nature than of personal taste. What a novel idea.