James Kelly

Partner, RAIA

B.Arch.St, M.Arch


My passion is designing seniors’ housing solutions that reflect what people tell us they want, not what they’re given. It’s a proactive approach using design to break down ageism.”

James leads our Seniors Living & Care sector nationally, collaborating with Australia’s leading commercial, government and not-for-profit developers of retirement living, aged care and integrated seniors communities. He draws on experience across multi-residential, community, heritage and commercial design and our practice specialties in community architecture, urban design and placemaking to help his team masterplan, co-design and deliver innovative typologies and inclusive communities that better support seniors’ agency, diversity and social connection as they age.

Impact focused and commercially astute, James is a thought leader on design strategy, masterplanning, spatial planning and co-design approaches that actively centre seniors’ aspirations and elevate their experiences. Regular international study tours, research and industry engagement inform his evidence-based approach. As a non-Indigenous member of our First Nations Design group, he is helping to embed designing with Country principles and meaningful engagement with traditional custodians and other First Nations stakeholders into our projects.

James collaborates regularly with leading seniors’ organisations including Dementia Australia, COTA and NARI on projects, events and advocacy. His commentary on issues from designing for social connection to defying ageism and hybrid small house models make him a regular contributor to industry media including Aged Care Today and Australian Ageing Agenda, and regular presenter and panellist at industry events.

Values-driven and proactive, James is active in numerous industry organisations, including mentoring programs with the Property Council of Australia, University of Melbourne and Australian Institute of Architects. He’s part of the AIA’s Large Practice Forum, and a longstanding volunteer and senior Board Member with the Balibo House Trust, where he draws on his architectural and strategic leadership to deliver community infrastructure including schools, health clinics and the adaptive reuse of a UNESCO-listed heritage Fort to accommodate a hotel now providing local employment, training and a hub for eco-tourism.

Selected Work

Wattlegrove Chc 01 Wattlegrove Chc 01

Baptcare Wattlegrove

Baptcare’s integrated living community will deliver a wide range of senior living options for truly transgenerational community.