Walter Burley Griffin


Walter Burley Griffin was born in 1876 in Maywood, Illinois. He received his degree in architecture from the University of Illinois in 1899 and then returned to Chicago, joining the group of architects already assembled at the Steinway Piano Company building, which was referred to as Steinway Hall. In 1901 he was employed by Frank Lloyd Wright at his Oak Park studio, staying there until 1905 when he left over a dispute about being paid with Japanese prints instead of money for his work just after Wright had returned from Japan. While working with Wright he met Marion Lucy Mahony, the person responsible for many of the perspective building renderings that showcased Wright’s prairie works, and later married her in 1911.

He then returned to Steinway Hall to open up his own practice, focusing primarily on residential commissions. He eventually hired former Wright employees and colleagues, Francis Barry Byrne and Harry Robinson. In 1912 Griffin won a competition to design the new capital city of Canberra, Australia. He and Marion left for Australia in 1914 to oversee the design and construction of the capital city along with other commissions that Walter had also received. This left Francis Barry Byrne to manage the Chicago office while Marion managed an office in Sydney and Walter ran the Melbourne office.

Walter practiced architecture for 21 years in Australia before leaving for Lucknow, India to design the University of Lucknow library building. While in India Walter died in 1937 from peritonitis developed from a ruptured gall bladder that occurred while he was in Australia.