Romaldo Giurgola

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Romaldo Giurgola
Born (1920-09-02)2 September 1920
Rome (or Galatina[1]), Italy
Died 16 May 2016(2016-05-16) (aged 95)
Canberra, Australia
Nationality Italian
Alma mater Sapienza University of Rome, Columbia University
Occupation Architect
Awards RAIA Gold Medal (1988)
Officer of the Order of Australia (1989 )
Australian Centenary Medal (2001)
Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings (2004)
Buildings Parliament House in Canberra

Romaldo "Aldo" Giurgola AO (2 September 1920 – 16 May 2016) was an Italian academic, architect, professor, and author. Giurgola was born in Rome, in 1920. After service in the Italian armed forces during World War II, he was educated at the Sapienza University of Rome. He studied architecture at the University of Rome, completing the equivalent of a B.Arch. with honors in 1949. That same year, he moved to the United States and received a master's degree in architecture from Columbia University. He moved to Canberra, Australia, in the 1980s.[2] He was a partner in the Philadelphia firm Mitchell/Giurgola Architects from 1958 until his death in 2016.[3]


Giurgola was a professor at Cornell and at the University of Pennsylvania, then at Columbia, before becoming chair of the Columbia architectural department in 1966. He was later the Ware Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Columbia. He was awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 1982.


The first important building of Mitchell/Giurgola was the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center (1957) for the US National Park Service, a building that brought them national attention for three reasons. It was one of the first NPS visitors' centers that became a building type unto itself. The design was consonant with a certain aesthetic preoccupation with aviation, flight, technology and space travel of the time, the same zeitgeist that produced Saarinen's TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was seen as a break with strict modernist tenets in its respect for the site and the program, as opposed to what Giurgola called "the imposition of abstract forms".

In Philadelphia, Giurgola had formed a relationship with Louis Kahn, who held similar views. In April 1961 the architectural critic Jan Rowan grouped Giurgola, Kahn, Robert Venturi, George Qualls, Robert Geddes and others, into "The Philadelphia School". Giurgola published several books on Kahn's work and philosophy.

Parliament House competition[edit]

Giurgola was invited to join the panel of judges for the 1980 international competition for the landmark Australian Parliament House in Canberra. Instead, he chose to enter the competition.[4] After winning, Giurgola moved to Australia and practiced there. He adopted Australian citizenship in January 2000.[5]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1982 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1994.

The ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) honored Giurgola with the ACSA Distinguished Professor Award in 1987-88.[6]

He was awarded the RAIA Gold Medal by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1988.

In January 1989 he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, "for service to architecture, particularly the new Parliament House, Canberra".[7] The award became substantive when he adopted Australian citizenship in 2000.[5]

In 1990 Giurgola's second notable Canberra building, the modest St Thomas Aquinas Church in Charnwood opened in 1989, won the RAIA's Canberra Medallion.

In 2001, he was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal, "for service as Principal Architect of the new and permanent Parliament House".[8]

In 2004 his St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta, won him Australia's highest architectural award, the RAIA's Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings, which he was first awarded in 1989 for the Parliament House.

In 2003 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney.[5]

A resident of Canberra since the 1980s, by 2005 Giurgola had built his own house at Lake Bathurst near Goulburn.[5]

The portrait of Romaldo Giurgola painted by Mandy Martin, was gifted by the RAIA to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra in 2005.[9]



  1. ^ The New York Times, 17 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2016
  2. ^ Bernstein, Fred A. (27 May 2016). "Romaldo Giurgola, 95, an Influential Architect". New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Burgess, Katie; Pryor, Sally (16 May 2016). "Parliament House architect Romaldo Giurgiola dies". Canberra Times. Retrieved 17 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Tony Stephens, Like his work, he'll blend into the landscape, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1999
  5. ^ a b c d The unsung hero of the hill, Steve Meacham, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2005
  6. ^ *ACSA Archives, Distinguished Professor Award winners.
  7. ^ It's an Honour: Hon AO
  8. ^ It's an Honour: Centenary Medal
  9. ^ "Romaldo Giurgola". architecturemedia. Feb 2006. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  10. ^ "Boston Public Library, South End Branch, Drawings, Photos, Papers, etc.". American Architects and Buildings. Retrieved 17 May 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Pioneer priest vows to die with his boots on, Graham Downie, Canberra Times, 4 August 2012, accessed 13 August 2012

External links[edit]

Media related to Romaldo Giurgola at Wikimedia Commons