Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW

Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW

The British government had earlier rejected the request of NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie to appoint a government architect, and insisted that Greenway’s job be temporary. Yet Greenway became the first of 23 NSW government architects whose collective tenure spans two centuries. While their titles and job descriptions have varied, their role has remained essentially the one pioneered by Francis Greenway.

PAST EXHIBITIONExhibition
Saturday 20 February 2016 to Sunday 8 May 2016
Admission: Free
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Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW

The British government had earlier rejected the request of NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie to appoint a government architect, and insisted that Greenway’s job be temporary. Yet Greenway became the first of 23 NSW government architects whose collective tenure spans two centuries. While their titles and job descriptions have varied, their role has remained essentially the one pioneered by Francis Greenway. Lachlan Macquarie’s ambition was to make a handsome town of Sydney, a goal at odds with London’s insistence that the new colony be managed as a deterrent address offering only the most basic subsistence.

For 200 years, the Government Architect’s office has followed Greenway’s ambition to design for the future and set the architectural standard for Sydney and NSW.

Imagine A City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW

Caption on bottom

An audio described version of the video is available.  

Pennant Hills High School, 1967, photo by Max Dupain & Associates
Pennant Hills High School, 1967
Max Dupain & Associates
Digital ID: 
None available
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A black and white photograph of architects working at drafting tables in 1963
About this item: 

Architects' drafting office during construction of the Sydney Opera House, 1963

11 June 1963

The Drafting Office, 1963
McPhedran, Don
Digital ID: 
d7_14219
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Plan section and elevation of Macquarie Lighthouse South Head, 1885
About this item: 

Black ink on paper.

Macquarie Lighthouse South Head, 1885
Barnet, James Johnstone, 1827-1904
Digital ID: 
Album ID : 846244
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State Office Block, 1968
Max Dupain & Associates
Digital ID: 
pxd72087
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Watercolour and ink sketch of a grand domed building with St Mary's Cathedral appearing in the background and a horse rider galloping across the foreground.
About this item: 

One of a collection of sketch designs for Free Public Library, 1883; Public Library Sydney, 1890

"Barnet's 1883 proposed National Library design, reminiscent of the British Museum, was to be located on the site of the Hyde Park Barracks."

-- Reference: A source of inspiration & delight : the buildings of the State Library of New South Wales since 1826 / David J. Jones. Sydney : Library Council of New South Wales, c1988.
`Braeside', Ross Street, Forest Lodge was the residence of the Barnet family.

Design for a Free Public Library, 1883
1883
Barnet, James Johnstone, 1827-1904
Digital ID: 
a690004
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A sepia photograph of the Garden Palace taken from the north side of Sydney Harbour looking back across the harbour with tall ships in Circular Quay
About this item: 

Albumen photoprint ; 15.7 x 20.7 cm

Presented January 1987

Photographer's stamp at lower left
"160" at lower left

Garden Palace, 1879
Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897
Digital ID: 
a089267
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Oil painting of a grand sandstone building with various people on the forecourt including a wigged solicitor. In the background, two other large buildings appear on the otherwise empty country landscape.
About this item: 

"In the late 1830s the Government Architect, Mortimer Lewis, designed the Supreme Court House (still standing on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst). Its severely classical form was much admired: Louisa Anne Meridith thought it the only `architectural' building in Sydney, while James Maclehose considered it representative of the `cottages, villas, and even mansions, partaking of a grandeur of character which could not have been contemplated in the early history of the colony [but which] are now to be seen in almost every direction...' "
Reference: George Edwards Peacock exhibition catalogue. State Library of New South Wales, 2002

Supreme Court House, Sydney, 1845
Peacock, G. E. (George Edwards), b. 1806
Digital ID: 
a128045
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Meet the curators


Presented in association with

Curator Q&A

A quick Q&A with 'Imagine A City' curator, Charles Pickett. 

Walk With Me

Join exhibition curator Charles Pickett on a self-guided highlights tour of Sydney’s #publicmade buildings.

Portico

Explore architectural gems from around the state with the latest digital experiment from the Library's DX Lab.

Imagine A City - Exhibition Film

Architects talk about the evolution of the Government Architect's Office over its 200 year history. 

Show more