William Alington (architect)

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Bill Alington
William Hildebrand Alington

(1929-11-18) 18 November 1929 (age 89)
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Alma materAuckland University College
University of Illinois
Margaret Hilda Broadhead
(m. 1955; died 2012)
BuildingsAlington House
Wellington Meteorological Office
Upper Hutt Civic Centre
Wellington High School

William Hildebrand Alington (born 18 November 1929) is a New Zealand modernist architect, whose work has been awarded nationally, and recognised internationally.

He was the husband of New Zealand historian Margaret Alington.

Biographic details and major works[edit]

Education and early years[edit]

Alington was born in Lower Hutt in 1929. He attended Waiwhetu School, and later Hutt Valley High School, where he was taught by James Coe.

Alington began his career as an architectural cadet in the New Zealand Ministry of Works (MoW) in 1949, before studying architecture at the Auckland University College School of Architecture (Auckland, New Zealand) from 1951 to 1955. Early influences of this time include Gordon Wilson, who was the Government Architect at the time, MoW cadet supervisor James (Jim) Beard, who was to become something of a mentor to Alington during the early part of his career, and Professor Richard Toy of Auckland University College School of Architecture. Upon returning to the MoW after his graduation, Alington was assigned to the Hydro-Electricity department where he worked for a short, but influential, time under Chris Valenduuk. Here Alington was responsible for designing the Bulls Water Tower (1956), and the Power House and Control Building for the Waipapa Dam (1956).

In 1955 Alington married Margaret Hilda Broadhead. They have three children.

In 1956 Alington left New Zealand, travelling to London, Europe; and on a Fulbright Travelling Scholarship, to Illinois in the United States. During 1956-1957 he worked in the London office of Robert Matthew and Johnson-Marshall on, among other projects, New Zealand House (London, England), and Ruddington Secondary Modern School (Nottingham, England). During this time he and his wife Margaret embarked on a tour of western Europe, fulfilling his desire to see firsthand the large medieval cathedrals, as well as key works of Modernist architecture including Le Corbusier's Ronchamp Chapel and Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.

From 1957 to 1959 Alington completed a MArch degree at the University of Illinois’ School of Architecture at Urbana, in the United States, during which time he had occasion to meet with Mies van der Rohe. While in the United States Alington took the opportunity to visit buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

The Ministry of Works years[edit]

On his return to New Zealand Alington resumed work as an architect with the MoW, with notable buildings of this time including the Gisborne Courthouse (Gisborne, 1962), and the Meteorological Office (Wellington, 1965).

Alington also designed his own house (Alington House, Wellington, 1962); an important building in his oeuvre, revealing the strong influences of both Mies van der Rohe, and Alington’s former cadet supervisor at the MoW, James Albert Beard. The Alington house was awarded an NZIA Wellington Branch Enduring Architecture award in 2002, and an NZIA (National) Enduring Architecture award in 2007. It was also listed as a Category 1 Protected Building on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust register in 2007.

Private practice(s)[edit]

Upper Hutt Civic Centre; Administration building (left) and Council Chambers (right). (photograph by Michael Dudding)
Wellington High School (photograph by Michael Dudding)

In 1965, Alington moved into private practice, accepting a partnership offered by Allot Gabites and James Beard in their architectural practice of Gabites and Beard. This partnership merged with Toomath and Wilson in 1971, becoming Gabites Toomath Beard Wilson and Partners. Although this ‘super-practice’ was to win the only two NZIA national medals awarded in 1972 (Alington for the Upper Hutt Civic Centre, and Toomath for the Karori Teachers’ College), the firm proved to be short-lived, and in that same year splintered under the weight of too many personalities. William Toomath and Derek Wilson took on new partners, becoming Toomath Wilson Irvine Anderson (TWIA), while Beard formed his own practice under the name of James Beard & Co. Alington remained with Al Gabites, and together with Derrick Edmondson formed Gabites Alington Edmonson. In 1978, George Porter joined the practice as a partner, prompting yet another name change to Gabites Porter and Partners. In 1983, Alington set up his own architectural practice: Alington Group Architects. He retired from professional practice in 2000.

Much of Alington's work during the 1970s has taken the form of institutional projects including work for civic councils, and educational institutions such as schools and universities. Some examples of these are:

  • VUW School of Music Kelburn, Wellington 1984
  • NZ Chancery New Delhi (unbuilt project) 1984
  • Boulevard Hotel (unrealised project) 1984
  • Dunedin City Council Administration Building (competition entry) 1979
  • Waipa County Offices Te Awamutu 1977
  • Wellington High School Wellington, 1973
  • NZ Chancery New Delhi (unbuilt project) 1973
  • Upper Hutt Civic Centre Upper Hutt 1972
  • Helen Lowry Halls of Residence Karori, Wellington, 1972
  • Massey University Halls of Residence Palmerston North, 1970

Alington has also carried out a large number of church projects, including: Stokes Valley Methodist Church (Stokes Valley, 1966), St Michael's Anglican Church Extension (Wellington, 1971), St Peter's Anglican Church Alterations (Wellington, 1978), St Mary's Anglican Church Extension 1988 (New Plymouth), Karori Baptist Church (Wellington, 1990), St Mary's Anglican Church Extension (Wellington, 1993). He was a Wellington Anglican Diocesan Synods Person 1972-1990.

In 1972, Alington was appointed honorary lecturer and tutor at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Architecture & Design, lecturing in architectural history. He also taught at the University of Auckland as a visiting lecturer in 1982.

Other professional posts held include: NZIA branch committee executive member (1961–1969), NZIA journal assistant editor (1964–1969), NZIA councillor, vice president, branch chairman (1977–1979), and Architectural Centre president (1970–1972).


  • NZIA (New Zealand Institute of Architects) - Resene Enduring Award for Architecture, 2007 (for Alington House, Wellington)
  • NZIA Resene Local Award for Architecture, 2001 (for Alington House, Wellington)
  • NZIA National Award – 1972 National Design Award, 11 May 1977 (for the Waipa County Council Administration building and Council Chamber at Te Awamutu)
  • NZIA Branch Award, 22 February 1977 (for the Waipa County Council Office at Te Awamutu)
  • NZIA Branch Award – 1975 Design Award, February 1976 (for Ministry of Transport Bulk Store, Kilbirnie, Wellington)
  • NZIA Branch Award – 1974 Design Award, February 1975 (for the Massey University Halls of Residence, B C & D, Palmerston North)
  • NZIA National Design Award Silver Medal, May 1972 (for Upper Hutt Civic Centre Council Chambers and Civic Hall, Upper Hutt)
  • NZIA Branch Award – 1971 Design Award, February 1972 (for the Upper Hutt Civic Centre Council Chambers and Civic Hall, Upper Hutt)
  • NZIA Wellington Branch Award, 1972 (for Helen Lowry Halls of Residence, Wellington)


  • "1972 Silver Medal Award," New Zealand Home and Building, XXXIV, 10 (1972): 23.
  • Alington, William H. "Architecture," in Ian Wards (ed.), Thirteen Facets: The Silver Jubilee Essays Surveying the New Elizabethan Age, a Period of Unprecedented Change, Wellington: E C Keating Government Printer, 1978. 337-50.
  • ---. "Good as Gold," Cross Section: NZIA News, July (2007): 12.
  • ---. "The Mason's Rod," Cross Section: NZIA News, April (2005): 11-13.
  • ---. "Thesis on the Theory of Architectural Design: Based Upon a Study of Certain Buildings in Rawene, Russell, and Waipu." Undergraduate Sub-thesis, Auckland: University of New Zealand, 1955.
  • Alington, William H. W H Alington Oral History Project, by Michael Dudding, Wellington: Oral History Centre, Alexander Turnbull Library, 2004.
  • Allen, Ellice. "House in Bush Setting," New Zealand Weekly News, 1 June (1970): 16-17.
  • Bonny, Stephanie., and Marilyn Reynolds. Living with 50 Architects: A New Zealand Perspective, Auckland: Cassell, 1980.
  • Cape, P. "The Upper Hutt Civic Centre," NZIA Journal, 39, 11 (1972): 334-335.
  • Clifford, A. "The bigger picture", New Zealand House and Garden, 147 (2006): 46-54.
  • "Design for the disabled," Designscape, 37 (1972): Insert 1-2.
  • Dudding, Michael. "A Useful Exercise: The context, content, and practical application of W H Alington's 'Thesis on the Theory of Architectural Design’" MArch thesis, Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington, 2005.
  • ---. "A Final Formality: Three Modernist Pavilion Houses of the Early 1960s," in Christine McCarthy (ed.), "…about as austere as a Dior gown…": New Zealand Architecture the 1960s, Wellington: Centre for Building Performance Research, VUW, 2005.
  • ---. Alington House Registration Report. Wellington: New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 2007.
  • Hansen, Jeremy. "Time and Space: The effortless modernity of Bill and Margaret Alington’s 60s Wellington home belies the toil that went into the details," Home & Entertainment, June/July (2004): 46-51
  • Kernohan, David. Wellington's New Buildings: A photographic guide to new buildings in Central Wellington. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1989.
  • "Meteoreological Office, Kelburn", NZIA Journal, 32, 3 (1965): 109.
  • "Meteoreological Office Wellington", NZIA Journal, 35, 4 (1968): 114-119.
  • Porsolt, Imric. "When Architects Design for Themselves," Better Business, September (1980): 31-32.
  • "Project; Upper Hutt City Council Building," NZIA Journal, 36, no. 6, (1969): 204.
  • Reid, Giles. "Focus: 5 Houses 5 Decades," Architecture New Zealand, December/January (1998): 72-73.
  • Sharp, D., and C Cooke (eds.). The Modern Movement in Architecture: selections from the Docomomo registers, Rotterdam: 010, 2000.
  • Shaw, Peter, and Robin Morrison. A History of New Zealand Architecture, 2nd ed. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Ltd, 1997.
  • Stacpoole, John, and Peter Beaven. Architecture: 1820-1970, Wellington: A W & A H Reed, 1972.
  • "Supreme Winners," Cross Section: NZIA News, June (2007): 5.
  • "Upper Hutt City Council Building", NZIA Journal, 39, 5 (1972): 160-163.
  • "Upper Hutt City Council," Upper Hutt City Proclamation, Upper Hutt: Upper Hutt City Council, 1966.
  • "Upper Hutt Civic Hall", NZIA Journal, 39, 5 (1972): 164-166.
  • Walden, Russell., ‘ALINGTON, W(illiam) H(ildebrand)’, in Muriel Emanuel (ed.), Contemporary Architects, London: Macmillan, 1980: 27-8.
  • "Wellington Branch Bronze Medal: Upper Hutt Civic Centre", New Zealand Home and Building, XXXIV, 5 (1971): 18-22.
  • "Wellington: The 2001 NZIA-Resene Local Architecture Awards." Architecture New Zealand, March/April (2002): 72.
  • Wood, Peter. "Bush Baby," Cross Section: NZIA News, July (2007): 13-14.

External links[edit]