John Davidson AM LFRAIA (1926–2021)
Former National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, John Davidson, passed away peacefully on the 29 July 2021. John was an exemplary architect who dedicated much of his life to the Institute and the profession.
John graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Melbourne with Honours in Design in April 1950. He became an Associate of Royal Australian Institute of Architects in the same year and was elevated to Fellow in 1960 and Life Fellow in 1979. He became national president in 1977 and was instrumental in setting up the National Practice Committee among many other foundational member services. Following his presidency, he was elected as the Australian/Asian representative on the International Council of the Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA), a position he retained for nine years, three of which were as vice president (1984–87). In 1985 John was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for “services to the architectural profession, particularly in International Affairs”.
As a young architect, John, joined Godfrey and Spowers in 1953. By 1961 he became a director of the practice, which soon expanded to become Godfrey Spowers, Hughes Mewton & Lobb. He helped establish and manage the practice’s joint venture Singapore practice, which operated between 1970 and 1980. He worked on many significant commissions including the Australian High Commission in Singapore, the former Masonic Centre of Victoria, Dallas Brookes Hall, and the former National Mutual Building (now the site of Collins Arch). He left Spowers in 1991 and was awarded the President’s Prize in 1993 for outstanding contribution to architecture in Victoria.
Following this period, John provided advisory services for competitions including the National Museum in Canberra, Federation Square in Melbourne, the Museum of Victoria, Carlton and Deakin University Woolstores Campus. In parallel with this he became a co-director of Catalyst Design Group from 1991 to 2001 with his son Hugo, an industrial designer.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, John served on many boards and committees, continuing well into his semi-retirement. He was a director of the ArchiTeam co-operative, a member of the Institute’s senior counsellor service providing practice advice to architects, and published on distant learning. John remained active in the profession well into his late 80s.
He was highly regarded for his diplomacy, genial nature, mentorship and as a talented designer. He will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife Helen Davidson and children Jane, Angus and Hugo.