Head, Field Projects

Susan Macdonald

In January 2008, Susan Macdonald became the head of GCI Field Projects. She was previously director of the New South Wales (NSW) Heritage Office, one of Australia's leading heritage agencies.

Susan attended the University of Sydney, where she earned bachelor's degrees in both science and architecture. Following graduation, she spent three years with private architectural firms in Sydney before moving to London in order to work on a greater range of historic buildings and building materials. Again working for private firms, Susan participated in a number of conservation projects, including one for which she served as project architect for conservation work at Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild's Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. During this time, she also earned an Architectural Conservation Certificate from ICCROM in Rome.

Her experience at Waddesdon led, in 1994, to the position of senior architectural conservator with the Architectural Conservation Team at English Heritage. Her work there, which included a broad spectrum of practical issues in historic building conservation, involved site analysis and research, training, conferences, and the development of publications. Susan oversaw major research projects on stone slate roofing, the use of sacrificial graffiti barriers, and mosaic-clad concrete. While there, she received a master's degree in conservation studies from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of York. Also during her time in Britain, she developed a strong interest in the conservation of twentieth-century architecture.

In 1998 she returned to Australia to head the Local Government Heritage Management Team of the NSW Heritage Office. The emphasis of much of her work was on the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and on improving the quality of architecture developed in the context of historic structures and complexes. In 2002 she became director of the Heritage Office, taking responsibility for, among other things, policy and legislation development and implementation, as well as day-to-day management. A highlight of her time there was serving as project director for the Australian nomination of the Sydney Opera House to the World Heritage List.

Her interest in coming to the GCI stemmed from a desire to do more to enhance conservation practice internationally by developing, consolidating, and disseminating methods and models. She welcomes the opportunity to partner with other organizations in the field and to work in areas where needs are not currently being adequately addressed. Among the areas she is interested in developing at the GCI are the preservation of historic settlements and cities and the preservation of twentieth-century architecture.