National Heritage Places - Newman College



Newman College, in the grounds of Melbourne University, is considered to be one of the best buildings designed by Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin. The college, which was built between 1916 and 1918, is an outstanding example of Griffin's distinctive sculptural style. Surrounding the college are landscaped grounds, designed by Griffin's wife Marion Mahoney.

Newman College was included in the National Heritage List on 21 September 2005.


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Newman College has a strong geometric form, which includes a dining hall and residential wings, and was built using an innovative mix of rough stone base with smooth masses of concrete above. Griffin enhanced the impact of his creation by extending his design through every aspect of the building - its fixtures, fittings and furniture.

A working partnership

The building sits harmoniously in park-like grounds designed by his wife, Marion Mahony. Perhaps the most striking and innovative feature of Newman College is the domed refectory made from reinforced concrete. When built, it was one of the earliest and largest domes in Australia. This remarkable building has continued to be lived and worked in by staff and students since 1918.

An award-winning architect

Griffin once worked for the internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and was a notable exponent of Chicago's Prairie architectural style. He came to Australia in 1914 after winning an international competition to design Australia's new capital city, Canberra. He went on to design whole suburbs, such as Castlecrag in Sydney, as well as individual buildings, before leaving Australia for India in 1935.

Australian architecture in the 20th century

Australia's fashions in architecture and engineering have been influenced by overseas trends since European settlement began in 1788. In the 20th century, traditional architectural boundaries were challenged and new ways of doing things explored. Architecture from this period, both in Australia and overseas, bears testament to this time of experimentation.

In the late 20th century architects, engineers and planners in Australian capital cities were among the first to find and introduce innovative architectural ways of expressing community, corporate and business optimism, in both private and government sector projects. This transformation gained momentum as Australia emerged from the Depression and two world wars.

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