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James Birrell Papers
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James Birrell Papers

  • UQFL117
  • Collection
  • 1937-1987

Architectural drawings of residential and commercial buildings, job files, incoming and outgoing correspondence, photographs and research material for his book on Walter Burley Griffin. Includes plans by Scorer and Scorer which Birrell obtained when he purchased the firm in 1966. The architectural drawings in this collection include those from his student days, his time with the Commonwealth Department of Works, the Brisbane City Council, the University of Queensland (as University Architect), and his private practices. Drawings for buildings not constructed are also in this collection.

Birrell, James, 1928-

James Birrell Architectural Drawings

Architectural drawings by James Birrell from his time as a student at Melbourne University, as a fourth year student in 1950 and fifth year in 1951. Drawings from work with the Commonwealth Department of Works in Melbourne (1948-1951, and 1954), Canberra (1952-1953); and Darwin (1954-1955). Drawings of buildings designed by Birrell while employed as an Architect in charge of the drawing office at the Brisbane City Council (1955-1961). Drawings designed by Birrell while employed as the University Architect for the University of Queensland (1 July 1961 to approx. 30 March 1966). Drawings done for buildings which were private commissions (1948-1966). Drawings while practicing in his firm, James Birrell and Partners (1966-1970) as well as drawings for buildings that were not built.

From his book A life in Architecture : Beyond the ugliness, James Birrell notes on pages 71-72 "The University was vested as property of the State Government and came under the control of the Co-Ordinator General of Public Works. The university was thus a tenant of the Co-Ordinator General who had control over all work".

Birrell, James, 1928-

Student work of James Birrell

Student work of James Birrell while studying at Melbourne University , as a fourth year student in 1950 and fifth year in 1951. Includes: Living quarters for old people ; Lighthouse and coastguard station ; St Judes Church of England, Carlton, Victoria ; Multistory city building ; Factory Unit ; Dairy buildings on a farm at Nar Nar Goon ; Streatham District Hospital ; City Bus Terminal ; Collins Street premises for a diamond dealer ; Road sign at the Haymarket ; Post office building, North Essendon ; Tomorrows house ; Open air theatre ; Himalayan trade bridge ; Sketchbook of notable architecture in Britain and France.

Birrell, James, 1928-

Geology Annexe, Chemistry Annexe and Western Arts Building [Unbuilt]

The Geology Annex, the Chemistry Annexe and the Western Arts Building were part of a master planning concept. They shared the structural and construction concept developed by Birrell and Antony Tod (structural engineer). None of the proposals were built.

Birrell, James, 1928-

Job A43 Geology Annex, University of Queensland [Unbuilt]

The Geology Annex was submitted with the proposals for the Chemistry Annex and the Western Arts Building to the Australian Universities Commission (A.U.C.) in 1965, and rejected. It was to be situated behind the exiting Geology building, along Circular Drive (now named Staff House Road) between the Physics Annex and the bookshop. It was designed with basement, ground and first to fifth floors. It was resubmitted to the A.U.C. in 1966 and rejected again. This file comprises 16 plans for the proposed geology annex, including pilot plans, elevation, perspective views, floor plans for each level, as well a master planning conception drawing, massing considerations drawing and sketches of Geology annex view from Lake, the North East and from within the court (or intimate space as referred to on one of the concept drawings). One pilot plan dated March 1965.

South eastern region of Chemistry Building, University of Queensland [Unbuilt]

The proposed Chemistry Annex was to be situated along Circular Drive (now Staff House Road) sitting in a small vacant piece of land adjacent to two wings of the Chemistry building, beside the bookshop, about where the current Global Change Institute sits. These three plans are of the existing chemistry building and are dated, 3rd, 5th and 7th October 1964.

Proposed Western Arts Building, University of Queensland [Unbuilt]

The Western Arts Building was designed to be geometrically related to the existing surrounding buildings forming a visual relation across Mill Road. It was to sit back from the western end of Main Building (Forgan Smith), linked by a cloister. The pilot plan for the proposed Western Arts Building designed by Birrell was submitted to the Australian Universities Commission (A.U.C.) in 1965 and rejected. Birrell's design was a break from the original design by Hennessy and Hennessy who were eventually commissioned as architects for the Western Arts building (Mitchie Building) on 16 March 1967.

This file consists of 35 plans for proposed New Western Arts building on the St. Lucia campus. Includes: site plans and presentation sketches for floor plans and perspectives.

Job A2 Main Library alterations, University of Queensland

Main Library was part of the Great Court buildings designed by Hennessy and Hennessy in 1935-1936. It consisted of two floors with a glass ceiling in the light well in the centre. Main Building was designed to be extended with an additional three floors, with high ceilings and a large light well in the centre. When the Library had insufficient space for students and books it was decided to go ahead with the extension of three more floors, as specified by Hennessy and Hennessy. Birrell proposed five additional floors instead of the three, the installation of passenger lifts, fluorescent lighting, and air-conditioning. Birrell was responsible for the internal arrangement and finishes. This file comprises 15 plans for alterations and additions to Main Library. Includes: sketch of lower ground floor (now Level 1), working drawings for 1st to 5th floors (now Level 3 to Level 7), stair details and compactus shelving.

Main Library was later known as Undergraduate Library; with the construction of Central Library in 1971 its name was changed to Duhig Building; and later, around 2000, to Duhig Tower.

Birrell, James, 1928-

Audio equipment

Architectural plan, ink line drawing on tracing paper. Title block: Building is Main Library, University Architect is J.P. Birrell, job number is A2/47, dated Sep 1965.

Plan - Lower ground floor

Architectural plan, ink line drawing on tracing paper, for the existing lower ground floor of Main Library (now level 1 of Duhig Building). Title block has: job title of Alterations and Additions to Main Library; Interior architect J.P. Birrell; no job number; and undated.

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