Parliament House Architect Romaldo Giurgola Dies

The man who designed Canberra’s iconic Parliament House, Italian-born Romaldo Giurgola, has died, aged 95.

Parliament House’s design was selected through an international two-stage competition conducted by the Parliament House Construction Authority.

The Authority was established by the government to construct a new building as the “provisional” Parliament House, originally opened in 1927, with alterations and extensions over the years, was inadequate to accommodate the needs of the parliament.

The competition drew 329 entries from 28 countries, with the winning design a visionary approach from the New York-based architectural company of Mitchell/Giurgola, with the on-site work directed by Mr Giurgola.

“We felt if Australia’s new Parliament House was to speak honestly about its purpose, it could not be built on top of the hill as this would symbolise government imposed upon the people,” Mr Giurgola said when the building was opened in 1988.

“In addition, it was important that Parliament House be seen as extending an invitation to all citizens to visit the building to see the workings of the democracy that is Australia. The invitation was to be seen in the descending arms of the walls of the Forecourt, described as being ‘an open gesture of welcome’.

“The building should nest with the hill, symbolically rise out of the Australian landscape, as true democracy rises from the state of things.”

Architectural details include the flag pole of 81 meters, from which a flag 12.8 m by 6.4m is flown.  It is approximately the size of a double decker bus. The flagpole weighs 220 tonnes and is made of polished stainless steel from Newcastle.

Mr Giurgola received many awards in recognition of his contribution include the RAIA Gold Medal by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1988, Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in January 1989 and Australian Centenary Medal, “for service as Principal Architect of the new and permanent Parliament House in 2001. Other major works by Mr Guirgola include:

-United Fund Headquarters Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1971)
-Tredyffrin Public Library, Strafford, Pennsylvania (1976)
-INA Tower, Philadelphia
-Layfayette Place (now Swissotel), Boston, Massachusetts (1985)
-Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brasília, Brazil
-Penn Mutual Tower, Philadelphia
-Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center.

 

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