Series 129 - Federal Capital Design Competition material

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Federal Capital Design Competition material


  • 1911 - 1923 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

0.1 m (1 type 2 box)
Very fragile

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Name of creator

(1864 - 1951)

Biographical history

Alexander James Macdonald was born in Fitzroy, Victoria on 21 February 1864. Macdonald received his architectural training in Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to Australia around 1888 to work in private practice before joining the Victorian Public Works Department as an Assistant Architect on 10 August 1889. At 32 years of age, he became Examiner of Patents for Victoria and later Chief Examiner of Patents for the Commonwealth. He returned temporarily to public architecture in 1912 and in the following two years worked intermittently as Walter Burley Griffin's chief assistant.

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Scope and content

This collection consists of a bound volume of papers and glass lantern slides and negatives. The volume includes instructions to competitors in the 1911 Federal Capital Design Competition, the report of the Federal Capital Designs Board and other parliamentary papers relating to Walter Burley Griffin’s winning design, including correspondence relating to AJ Macdonald’s temporary transfer ‘to assist Mr Griffin’, and reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on ‘Dams for Ornamental Waters – Canberra’ and the erection of the Provisional Parliament House, Canberra. The lantern slides are of AJ Macdonald’s entry (no. 9) in the Federal Capital Design Competition which was one of the 46 short-listed designs (see The lantern slides (8 x 8 cm) are:
•Drawing 1, Map of Contour Survey of the Site
•Drawing 2, Perspective view overlooking the Administrative Centre
Two additional lantern slides labelled A and B relate to another project for a site south of the Flinders Street station in Melbourne. There are also two glass plate negatives (22 x 17 cm) of Drawings 1 and 2 with a label ‘AJ Macdonald’s design for Federal Capital, DW Crawford’s perspective view thereof’.


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Researchers must sign an access agreement

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There is a full set of instructions for competitors (ANUA 140); the National Library holds an original map (Drawing 1) as PIC/9929/50 Folder 3

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Prepared by Maggie Shapley on 16 November 2007




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