Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Walter Burley Griffin
From 1901 to 1912, Griffin worked for Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park, Illinois. During this time, Griffin designed many houses in the Chicago area, and also married Marion Lucy Mahony early in his career in 1911.
In 1911, Griffin won the design competition for Australia's new capital Canberra. In 1914, Griffin and his wife Marion moved to Australia, where they stayed for the next 21 years. He was appointed the Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction.
Griffin oversaw the design of North and South Canberra, though he had to struggle with politics and bureaucracy. Several parts of his basic design underwent change. For instance, plans to create a Westbourne, Southbourne and Eastbourne Avenue to complement Canberra's Northbourne Avenue came to nothing, as did a proposed railway that would have gone from South Canberra to North Canberra, and then in a northwest direction to Yass. A market area that would have been at Russell Hill in North Canberra was moved southwards to what is now Fyshwick, next to South Canberra.
The pace of building was slower than expected, partly because of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and partly because a dispute between Griffin and Federal government bureaucrats. In 1917, a Royal Commission determined that they had undermined Griffin's authority by supplying him with false data which he had used to carry out his work. Ultimately, Griffin resigned from the Canberra design project in 1920, when he discovered that several of these bureaucrats had been appointed to an agency that would oversee Canberra's construction.
However, he remained in Australia and he later designed the inner northern Sydney suburb of Castlecrag and the very original Melbourne suburb of Eaglemont. Griffin used what was at that time the novel concept of including native bushland in these designs. Griffin also helped to design the New South Wales towns Leeton, Griffith and Culburra Beach.
By 1935, however, he was reduced to designing incinerators in the Sydney area. Then, in that year, the Griffins left Australia to go to Lucknow, India. During his time there, Griffin designed a series of 60 university buildings. He was still engaged in this when he died from peritonitis, following an unsuccessful operation.
Extant major buildings that are characteristic of Burly Griffin's style include the Willoughby Incinerator in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby , the old Capitol Theatre in Swanston St , Melbourne, and Newman College at the University of Melbourne. The latter group of buildings, which comprise a refectory, chapel and dormitory, are considered by many to be Burley Griffin's finest.
A landmark in Chicago and an artificial lake in Canberra are both named after Walter Burley Griffin.
- Australia: Canberra: The Nation's Capitol: History of the Capitol: Walter Burley Griffin
- An Ideal City? The 1912 Competition to Design Canberra
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