The recently retired chairman of Hassell, one of Adelaides big three multi-national practices, wins this years top Institute honour for a lifetime of quiet achievement.
| ||John Morphett, AM, OBE, LFRAIA|
An Australian citizen born in 1932 in Johore Bahru, Malaysia, John Morphett has been associated with Hassell, the multi-disciplinary, now-international design firm, for more than 40 years. After 15 years as managing director and three as chairman, he retired in 1997 but continues to undertake consulting work for the firm. He has been involved in Hassells diversification to new markets throughout Australia and into Hong Kong, Thailand and the Phillipines.
Major architectural projects led by John Morphett include The Adelaide Festival Centre (1978), the Sir Donald Bradman grandstand at the Adelaide Oval (1988), Melbourne Central (1985), the Australian Ballet headquarters in Melbourne (1987), the Samuel Way Law Courts in Adelaide (1983), the Rundle Street Car Park in Adelaide (1980) and many educational and performing arts facilities around Australia.
Since retirement from commercial practice, he has continued to chair the Westwood Project Committee for an urban redevelopment in Adelaide, Enterprise House (a property-owning company) and the Wyatt Benevolent Institution.
As key educational achievements, he gained a Bachelor of Engineering (Architecture) from the University of Adelaide in 1954, a Master of Architecture from MIT in 1958, and completed an advanced management course at the Australian Administrative Staff College in 1978. During the 1960s and 70s, he also lectured and tutored at both of the Adelaide schools of architecture.
In community service, he was honorary British Consul-General in South Australia 1986- 96; President of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 1989-91; President of the RAIA SA Chapter, 1981-82; Chairman and Director of the Australian Dance Theatre Board, 1974-84, and Honorary Governor of the Wyatt Benevolent Foundation, since 1963. As well as his AM and OBE, he has received the honours of a Knight of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, RAIA Life Fellow, RAIA SA Presidents Medal, 1997, and the Australian Council of the Professions SA award for community service, 1999.
Throughout his architectural career, John Morphett has served and exhibited a commitment to the architectural profession and the community at large through design. His involvement in professional activities via the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, at a time when awareness of community attitudes was beginning to be felt, heralded a new direction for architecture in South Australia.
This dedication to architecture and the community has resulted in many buildings and developments designed in the Hassell office, under his direction, that have profoundly assisted the advancement of the cities in which they are built.
Johns influence in positioning a South Australian architectural practice as a major national practice with an international presence, occurred during this fertile period. Furthermore, his commitment to a team approach which grew out of his experience with Walter Gropius at the Architects Collaborative in Boston and Rome in the late 1950s has widely influenced the South Australian architectural fraternity.
Johns overseas travels of 1973 also contributed to collaborations between public art and architecture. His 1973-4 study tours of the USA, Canada, Russia and Europe (including one to the Federal Republic of Germany to study public art) also helped to advance the SA professions understandings of urban design and international developments in architectural design and construction technology.
John Morphetts particular interest in theatre design has led him to contribute papers to international conferences on theatre design in Adelaide and Sydney leading to an ongoing involvement in the development of arts facilities throughout Australia. He is married with five children and continues to live in Adelaide.