The West Australian Institute of Architects was first formed in May 1896, sixty seven years after the foundation of the Swan River settlement. Whilst early records indicate that earlier attempts were made to establish an Institute in 1887 and 1892, lack of subsequent evidence indicates that these attempts may if successful, have been short-lived.
A public announcement in The West Australian and subsequent reports provides definite proof that a general meeting of practising architects was held in the Criterion Hotel on the afternoon of 26 May 1896, with the express purpose of forming an Institute of Architects in Western Australia. At that meeting George Temple-Poole was elected as the first President, Michael Cavanagh as Vice-President, Clarence Wilkinson as the Honorary Secretary and Joseph Talbot Hobbs as the first Treasurer.
One of the reasons for the formation of a professional association may have been due to the rapid expansion of architects during the 1890s. According to J.M. Freeland, “in 1893, there were twelve private architects in Western Australia (nine in Perth and three in Fremantle). A year later there were eighty seven, and the next year, in 1897, a hundred and two architects were working in WA”
When the Institute applied for incorporation in 1902, the Government Gazette described the objectives of the Institute to be as follows:
“The cultivation of the Science and Art of Architecture, advancing, protecting and elevating the practice of it in its several branches, and encouraging intellectual and social discourse among the members.”
The Institute’s motto was Ad Altiora - “Towards higher things”
The first decades of the 20th Century saw the Institute gain recognition as the voice of the architectural profession in WA and the controlling authority on professional matters.
Between 1910 and 1916 the WAIA was responsible for promoting the need for formal town planning processes in Perth. Following the proclamation of the Housing & Town Planning Act in Britain in 1909, the Institute arranged for two representatives to attend a major planning conference held at the Royal Institute in London in October in 1910. Similar conferences were then held in Perth, and in 1911 George Temple-Poole and Hardwick both produced large scale planning schemes for Perth.
The visit to Perth in 1914 by William Davidge and Charles Reade of the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association of Great Britain did much to progress the public debate on this issue and ultimately led to the formation of the W.A. Town Planning Association in March 1918.
In July 1921, additional recognition was accorded to the WAIA when the Governor proclaimed that the King had given permission for the association to be known forthwith as the Royal Institute of Architects of Western Australia (RIAWA).
Later that year (1921), after two years of discussions facilitated by the Institute, legislation was introduced into State Parliament to register architects in Western Australia. On 31 January 1922, WA led the way by being the first State to formally register architects, when the Architects Act of Western Australia 1921 was proclaimed.
During the later part of the 1920s discussions were held with the Institutes of Architects in other States regarding the need for a national Institute to be formed. However, due to the general lack of enthusiasm exhibited in WA for federation, Western Australia declined an invitation to become one of the founding partners of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects when it was formally created in 1930. Instead formal links were established with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London.
While discussions continued regarding the merits of joining a national institute, the Royal Institute of Architects of Western Australia (RIAWA) continued to prosper with 1939 witnessing the first publication of it’s own magazine The Architect and the appointment of it’s first paid (although part-time) Institute administrator, when E.G. Sier was appointed in June 1939. The close connection with the Architects Board of Western Australia also dates from this time, with Sier undertaking the role of part-time administrator for the RIAWA and part-time registrar for the Board during the period 1939 to 1967.
With the support of the RIAWA, 1939 also witnessed the promulgation of the Builders Registration Act and the creation of the Builders’ Registration Board during the following year. Paddy Clare held the position of Chairman of the Board from it’s inception in 1940 until 1971.
However, the outbreak of World War II had a major impact on West Australians, the architectural profession and RIAWA. Unlike the situation during World War I, when the profession and the Institute had continued to function more or less normally, the effects of the 1939-1945 conflict were significant and severe. By the end of 1942, it was claimed that 90% of all architects were directly involved in the war effort.
With the profession facing the serious challenges of war and few members available to attend to Institute matters, it was informally agreed that future debate about amalgamation with the RAIA should be set aside until the end of the war. However, while in Sydney on war related work during June 1942, Harold Boas (Vice-President of the RIAWA) took the opportunity to discuss amalgamation with Professor Hook, the indefatigable secretary of the RAIA. Both men were confident that the difficulties standing in the way of amalgamation could be resolved.
Seizing the moment, Harold Boas wrote to RIAWA President A.E. Clare recommending that RIAWA should join forces with the RAIA as soon as possible. Following consideration by the RIAWA Council, a decision was taken later that year to submit a formal application for all members of the RIAWA to form the WA Chapter of the RAIA. Following approval of this proposal by the Council of the RAIA, the terms of the agreement were forwarded to Perth and considered at a special meeting of the RIAWA Council on 5 January 1943 and at a special general meeting of members on the next day.
With their agreement, the Council was authorised to proceed with the merger of the RIAWA with the RAIA. The public announcement of the formation of the WA Chapter of the RAIA appeared in the March 1943 edition of The Architect. At the first meeting of the new Chapter, A.E. Clare’s efforts in guiding the merger to a successful conclusion were acknowledged by his election as the first President of the W.A. Chapter.
With the merger (and the end of the war) came a change in focus with local practices, local standards, even local values and priorities now being measured against national norms and national policies. The impact of these changes are still being felt today, as the architectural profession adjusts to progressive changes in the adoption of national standards and the emergence of a national market for architectural services.
A detailed history of the Institutes of Architecture in WA titled High Hopes has been compiled by Duncan Richards and is available from the WA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects at 33 Broadway, Nedlands by phoning 9287 9900 or by emailing email@example.com
Presidents Of The WA Institutes of Architects
West Australian Institute of Architects (WAIA)
1896 - 1903 G. T. Poole
1903 - 1905 M.F. Cavanagh
1905 - 1907 G. T. Poole
1907 - 1909 P. W. Harrison
1909 - 1911 J. J. T. Hobbs
1911 - 1913 P. W. Harrison
1913 - 1915 G. T. Poole
1915 - 1917 M. F. Cavanagh
1917 - 1919 J. H. Eales
1919 - 1921 A. R. L. Wright
Royal Institute of Architects of Western Australian (RIAWA)
1921 - 1922 A. R. L. Wright
1922 - 1923 J. L. Ochiltree
1923 - 1924 A. R. L. Wright
1924 - 1925 E. G. Cohen
1926 - 1927 A. R. L. Wright
1928 - 1929 J. F. Allen
1930 - 1931 E. Le B. Henderson
1932 - 1933 J. F. Allen
1933 - 1934 W. J. W. Forbes
1935 - 1936 A. D. Cameron
1937 - 1938 R. Summerhayes
1939 - 1940 K. C. Duncan
1940 - 1941 G. H. Parry
1942 - 1943 A. E. Clare
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA - WA)
1943 - 1944 A. E. Clare
1945 - 1946 A. B. Winning
1947 - 1948 W. A. Mcl. Green
1949 - 1950 J. B. Fitzhardinge
1951 - 1952 W. T. Leighton
1953 - 1954 O. V. Chisholm
1955 - 1956 K. C. Duncan
1957 - 1958 M. W. G. Clifton
1959 - 1960 D. O. Sands
1961 - 1962 M. H. Parry
1963 - 1964 W. T. Leighton
1965 - 1966 G. W. Finn
1967 - 1968 G. E. Summerhayes
1969 - 1970 R. M. Fairbrother
1971 - 1972 E. G. Cohen
1973 - 1974 J. K. Duncan
1975 - 1976 P. J. Grigg
1977 - 1978 A. C. De Leo
1979 - 1980 J. A. Pickering
1981 - 1982 R. B. Bodycoat
1983 - 1984 L. W. Hegvold
1985 - 1986 M. Hardman
1987 - 1988 J. Taylor
1989 - 1990 B. F. C. Wright
1991 - 1992 P. S. Parkinson
1993 - 1994 G. F. H. Howlett
1995 - 1996 G. L. London
1997 - 1998 N. W. Shaw
1999 - 2001 H. G. Schubert
2001 - 2004 W. M. Kerr
2004 - 2005 P. M. Pinder
2005 - 2007 I. H. Dewar
Australian Institute of Architects
2008 - 2011 R.D. Mollett
2011 - current D.J.K. Karotkin
The history of the Institutes of Architects in Western Australia has been closely paralleled by the development of the Public Works Department of W.A. For many years, the major public buildings in W.A. were undertaken under the responsibility of the Principal Architect of the PWD.
Principal Architects of the PWD
Between 1891 and 1985 the Principal Architects of the Public Works Department were responsible for the delivery of the State Government’s public buildings capital works program throughout Western Australia. Those who served the State in this role, were as follows:
1891 - 1897 George Temple Poole
1897 - 1905 John Henry Grainger
1905 - 1917 Hillson Beasley
1917 - 1927 William Burden Hardwick
1927 - 1930 John Melbourne James Tait
1930 - 1960 Albert Ernest (Paddy) Clare
1960 - 1967 Walter Leonard Green
1967 - 1968 Leonard J Walters
1968 - 1980 Stanley Buckingham Cann
1980 - 1985 William E M Bateman
The contribution these architects have made to the development of our State during this period are documented in the book “Building a State” by John Le Page which is available in the State Library and in the library of the W.A. Chapter of the RAIA.
With the creation of the Building Management Authority in 1985, the position of the State’s top Architect was abolished. However, this situation has recently been reversed with the re-establishment of the position of Government Architect for Western Australia.
Government Architect for Western Australia
On 6 June 2003, the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon Dr Geoff Gallop announced that the State Government wished to continue the tradition of having a senior adviser on architectural matters by once again creating the position of Government Architect. Applications from suitable candidates were advertised the following day and on 28 September 2003, the Minister for Housing & Works, the Hon. Nick Griffiths announced that Professor Geoffrey London had been appointed as the Government Architect for a five year term from 1 January 2004 until 31 December 2008.