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A Life in Architecture
by

James Birrell reflects on his life in architecture: the influence of architect Roy Grounds; his respect for Walter Burley Griffin’s original Canberra plan and his emphasis on the value of incorporating the landscape in its entirety into building design and planning; and his own significant contribution to Australia’s post-war architecture.

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Overview

In A Life in Architecture James Birrell reflects on his life in architecture: the influence of architect Roy Grounds; his respect for Walter Burley Griffin’s original Canberra plan and his emphasis on the value of incorporating the landscape in its entirety into building design and planning; and his own significant contribution to Australia’s post-war architecture.

Birrell writes candidly about Queensland’s lacklustre approach to town planning during the 1950s; the iconic buildings he designed in his years as Chief Architect for Brisbane City Council; and the revolutionary planning schemes he developed at the University of Queensland and James Cook University, in Papua New Guinea and regional Queensland.

Now, at the age of 84, Birrell comments on Robin Boyd’s 1960 book, The Australian Ugliness. While acknowledging the influence Boyd had on Australian architecture, he prompts readers to take a moment to consider their built environments in the light of the architectural legacy and lineage created by Griffin, Grounds and others.

Details
James Birrell, author of A Life in Architecture: Beyond the Ugliness

James Birrell

James Birrell is known as one of Australia’s formative architects and planners. His career spans more than 60 years. Distinguished works from his early public practice include Brisbane’s Centenary Pools, the Wickham Terrace Car Park, the Toowong Library, and the University of Queensland’s Union College. His private practice projects include large-scale buildings in Papua New Guinea and regional Queensland. Birrell is the author of Walter Burley Griffin (UQP 1964). In 2005 he received the RAIA Gold Medal for his enduring contribution to Australian architecture. He lives on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.