Marion Mahony GriffinPrint Page Print this page

The bust commemorates architect Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961). In 2013, the ACT Government named the view from the top of Mount Ainslie after her.

She was born in February 1871 in Chicago (USA), the daughter of a school-teacher named Mahony. After obtaining a BSc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1894, she became the first woman licensed to practice architecture in the State of Illinois.

She became 'a design collaborator with three male architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hermann von Holst, and Walter Burley Griffin, which was a necessity for any woman architect at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the interior designs she did for Wright’s houses from 1895 and the 'virtuoso drawings’ she executed for a monograph on Wright to be published in Berlin, thus promoting his international reputation, but she remained his 'collaborator’ only.

When she took over Wright’s unfinished projects after he absconded to Europe in 1909, most of her architectural drawings were signed by Hermann von Holst (the head of the firm) with Marion merely the 'associate’ architect.

Marion Mahony married Walter Burley Griffin in Chicago on 29 June 1911. She was forty, he five years her junior; they had no children.

The winning design for the proposed Australian federal capital, Canberra, in 1912 has always been known as Walter’s alone, even though Marion drew the elegant perspective watercolours that were said to have influenced the judges in its favour.

While Walter acted as part-time director of design and construction for the new capital for seven years, the Griffins also undertook many private architectural commissions. Walter’s brother-in-law Roy Lippincott – who worked as draughtsman for the Griffins – claimed that it was Marion who was responsible for the success of the Café Australia and the Melbourne Capitol Theatre (1922-24) projects. As well as the stunning ceiling of the Capitol Theatre, she is also attributed with the design of the symbolic tiles on the Pyrmont Incinerator which was demolished in 1992.

In 1920 the Griffins set up a company to develop a residential estate, Castlecrag, on the shores of Sydney Harbour; they settled there in 1925. This was to be a self-contained community, with all houses designed by Walter to complement the natural landscape. Marion ran the Castlecrag office, supervised or prepared all drawings and led local cultural activities. Both were interested in Theosophy by this time; later they became interested in the theories of Rudolph Steiner.


Address:Mount Ainslie Drive, Mount Ainslie, Ainslie, 2602
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.270267
Long: 149.158067
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 14th February, 2021
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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