The University of Westminster conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters to Surath Wickramasinghe, chartered architect and chartered town planner, at the convocation ceremony held on 24 November 2012.
Surath graduated from the University of Westminster, London and completed a Masters Degree in Planning at the University of Moratuwa. The Doctorate was conferred for his outstanding contributions in transforming the practice and the profession of Architecture.
The University in its citation recognised that his professional education, combined with a keen sense of opportunity buttressed by the innate creativity and ability to face challenge refined over many years, has made him an exceptional leader of his profession.
Surath Wickremasinghe has made an outstanding contribution to architecture for over four decades. His carrier combines a prolific and continued output of significant architecture and urban design projects including a distinguished list of writings and publications. He is an architect, an urban planner, developer, visionary and an unchallengeable leader with innovative contribution to inspire the transformation of architecture, its profession and the construction industry in Sri Lanka.
The designs and the buildings stand out as landmarks of his achievements, and have won several impressive and distinguished excellence awards including the highest honour the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) can bestow, the gold medal for architecture.
Surath’s significant contribution to the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects was in between 1982 as President-Elect, and 1983 to 1985 as its President when he laid a firm and indestructible foundation for the SLIA’s ascendancy among the professions from a virtually unknown small Institute to gain its present identity as one of the most active and professionally articulate organisations in Sri Lanka and Asia.
By initiating the Annual National Conference in Architecture, Public Affairs Forum, Members Work and Building Products and Trade Exhibition during his presidency, he championed the cause of architecture as a professional practice in Sri Lanka and set the standards for other professional organisations to follow.
This single-most act has showcased the practice of architecture to the whole island from that day onwards making the event one of the most sought after in the public calendar. Its impact has been tremendous in propagating the relevance of architecture in society.
In Asia, he was involved with the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) for nearly 30 years and was elected as its President between 1997 and 1999 and remained its advisor thereafter for 10 years. During his presidency, ARCASIA interacted with the Union of International Architects (UIA) for the first time at its Council Meetings and placed the ARCASIA and Asian architects at a global echelon.
In ARCASIA, he introduced the Heritage Trust for the protection of heritage buildings of architectural importance in Asia. In addition, he introduced a six year corporate plan, ensured that ARCASIA should spearhead new quality standards and sharing of technology between member institutes, to upgrade the knowledge and skills among Asian professionals.
As Founder President of the Chamber of Construction Industry, Sri Lanka in 2001 at a time when the construction industry was recording minus growth, he gave leadership by lobbying the Government on the way forward. Today, he continues as its president and undisputed leader of the booming construction industry. The citation concluded as follows:
“With his many outstanding achievements, his significant influence within Sri Lanka and the wider Asian region and his continued much valued support for the University of Westminster, I am proud and delighted to confer upon Surath Wickramasinghe the Award of Honorary Doctor of Letters.”