The ClockTower: a winning design

Architectural drawing from Goldsbro' entry [ca.1921]

Detail from Goldsbro’, G. S. [ca. 1921]. Auckland University College Arts Building competition entry. (click image for full view)

New buildings designed to meet the needs of an increasing university population are not a recent phenomenon at the University of Auckland. You could say it all began in May 1920 with the announcement of a competition to design the University’s first significant purpose-built building.

A display featuring copies of the designs from the competition finalists is currently on show in the foyer outside the Architecture and Planning Library. Original drawings of these designs, submitted by McDonald, Mullions and Smith of Auckland and Selwyn Goldsbro’, also of Auckland, are held in the Architecture Archive. Sadly the whereabouts of the other competition entries (44 entries were submitted in total) are unknown and are presumed lost.

The winning design was submitted by Melbourne based American architect, Roy A. Lippincott and his colleague Edward F. Billson. This resulted in the ClockTower building, which has grown to be one of the University’s most widely recognised buildings.

Architectural drawing by Lippincott and Billson (1922). Auckland University College Arts Building sheet 11a.

Detail from Lippincott, R. A. and Billson, E. F. (1922). Auckland University College Arts Building sheet 11a [architectural drawing]. Lippincott Collection (LP2). Architecture Archive. (click image for full view)

Copies of three of Lippincott & Billson’s oversized drawings are on display inside the Architecture and Planning Library. These come from the set of 19 original ink on linen drawings held in the Architecture Archive’s Lippincott Collection.

To learn more about the competition, the ClockTower building and its architects, visit the exhibition which runs until early April.

Sarah Cox, Architecture Archivist, Architecture and Planning Library

Further reading

Bassett, D. J. D., Le Vaillant, L., Vernon, C., Lloyd-Jenkins, D. & Wild, J. (2004). Roy Lippincott, the architect of the tower. Auckland, New Zealand: AGM Publishing.

Bruce, M. A. (1984). Roy Alstan Lippincott: an American connection (unpublished BArch thesis). University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Falconer, S. A. (1993). The Maori gothic wedding cake: the Auckland University College arts building and the architecture of Roy Alstan Lippincott (unpublished MA thesis). University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Margetts, P. (1978). Three towers of Auckland (unpublished BArch thesis). University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sinclair, K. & McNaughton, T. (1983). A history of the University of Auckland, 1883-1983. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.

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