1966 REPORT FROM MY 1965 WORLD TOUR OF UNIVERSITIES To the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University

In 1964 I heard about a course on Fundamental Design Method to be given at the West of England Engineers Association in Clifton, Bristol, UK. This sounded to be closely related to all the work I had been doing on the analysis of design fundamentals in my spare time, so I asked Tom Owen, Registrar of Property and Plans at ANU if I could attend the 3 weeks full time course. I was granted study leave to look at universities and it ended up as a 6 months round-the-world tour for Hilary and myself, but our 3 children would not be paid for and it was strongly mentioned that we should not take them with us.

We went by ship to Southampton and I spent the very intensive course at Bristol as the only architect in a group of 12 engineers, one of which was a senior engineer working on the design of the Concorde aircraft. I was in very interesting company. From there we did a quick tour around English universities.

We flew to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu, Taipai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Darwin and then home, visiting universities and similar institutions to see how they organised the design elements of their campuses.

Not one had any administrative unit comparable to the ANU Design Unit.

On my return I wrote a very full report for submission to Tom Owen and Council with several suggestions as to how we might improve our organisation. There was dead silence from there on; no discussion, no queries, no action.

I had one copy but unfortunately it was lost in the Jansz Crescent house fire in 1975(?) along with other documents.

The course in Bristol did, however, confirm my own application of design methodology to the ANU campus development, especially the Total Design concept I was trying to establish but also that the administrators above me were not comprehending this approach – their thinking seemed to be almost entirely based on money with little concept of the totality and quality of good campus design – it was obvious that we were marching to different drummers. Secondly, my visits to many universities overseas showed that despite our own shortcomings we had a far more comprehensive approach to campus design.
I could find no evidence of any Design Units with a totality or holistic approach such as ours, anywhere – an aspect that was used against me in that if no other university thought a Design Unit was necessary then why did we (ANU) have one ?

This was answered sometime around the 1970s when Fred and I helped the new Canberra College of Advanced Education (later renamed as Canberra University in Bruce) to establish their own Design Unit. I remember helping them with my research findings on the interior needs of their first lecture theatres – seating, sight lines for projection purposes, interconnected lecterns with lighting controls etc.

I designed the CCAE logo which is included in my LOGO segment in this Portfolio and this was retained when it was changed to Canberra University in 1968.