In 1926, an architectural competition invited new designs for Winthrop Hall and the Hackett Memorial Buildings at The University of Western Australia. A bequest by the University’s first Chancellor, Sir John Winthrop Hackett, had provided £150,000 for this purpose. This article from the West Australian informs readers of the competition’s outcome. It identifies Melbourne architects Rodney Alsop and Conrad Sayce as the winners, Donald H. McMorran from Harrow-on-the-Hill as the first runner-up and Gummer and Ford from Auckland as the second runner-up. The article reports that 51 designs had been considered by the panel, which was comprised of Professor Leslie Wilkinson, Professor of Architecture, Mr A. R. L. Wright, President of the Royal Institute of Architects of Western Australia and Dr Athelson Saw, the Chancellor of the University, and that they had particularly commended the general layout and the design for the great hall, the loggia and the tower in the winning design. The conditions of the competition had stipulated that the winner would be employed as the architect for the project unless the adjudicators in consultation with the Senators objected. During this discussion, Professor Ross asked what style the winning design represented. Professor Wilkinson is reported to have answered “it is in the style which our grandsons will call ‘Early Western Australian Renaissance’.”
Construction of the buildings began soon after, and Winthrop Hall was officially opened in April 1932. Alsop and Sayce began the project together, although Alsop was the senior architect and assumed responsibility for all correspondence about the project, but fell out in the process and Sayce left before the buildings were completed. One of their disagreements centred on Alsop’s replacement of the original clock tower with an Italian style campanile. For more information, see R. J. Ferguson, Crawley Campus: The Planning and Architecture of The University of Western Australia, (University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1993), pp. 24-33.
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