Other artworks

  • Public Hall
  • Walter Burley GRIFFIN and Marion Mahony GRIFFIN
  • W.B. Griffin (1896–1937), M.M. Griffin (1871–1961)
  • View from the summit of Mount Ainslie
  • 1912
  • Hand-annotated sketch plan submitted in the Federal Capital Design Competition 23 May 1912. Image produced by ferrogallic process, supplied by the National Archives of Australia and restored by Stephanie Dent, Bica Photographics; collection of the High Court of Australia.

The design of Australia’s capital, Canberra, including the location of the High Court of Australia, is heavily indebted to the vision and talents of the American architects Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin. The Yass-Canberra district was selected as the site for the capital in 1908, and an international competition for the design of the city was opened. More than 130 architects and town planners from Australia, North America and Europe submitted plans. In May 1912 the Griffins’ work was announced as the winning design.
The Griffins’ Canberra Plan was for an ideal city drawing on the ‘City Beautiful’ and ‘Garden City’ movements, with sweeping parklands and piazzas and landscaped suburban areas. The Plan also featured geometric and axial arrangements with the central Parliamentary triangle to house the elements of government on terraces. This triangle was to include a bicameral Parliament House separated from buildings used for departmental and judicial functions, representing the elements of constitutional democracy. This government precinct and central administrative area was the Griffins’ intended site for the Court of Justice that is the High Court of Australia, next to the land axis that runs from Mount Ainslie through Capital Hill to Bimberi Peak, and adjacent to the water axis running from Black Mountain and along what is now named Lake Burley Griffin, close to the Griffins proposed ‘Water Gate’ and central lake basin.

About the artists

Walter Burley Griffin was born in Illinois, USA on 24 November 1876, and Marion Mahony was born in Chicago on 14 February1871. They married as young architects after working together for a time in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect.
Both worked as architects, landscape architects and planners in the United States, Australia and India, and both celebrated nature and democratic principles in their designs and lifestyle.