Walter Burley Griffin

Serendipity are honoured to bring our readers a dedicated page on one of Melbourne’s beloved architects: Walter Burley Griffin. Although born in Chicago in 1876, Griffin developed a growing connection to Australia as he developed his practice. In 1910 he was announced as the winner of an international competition to design the capital city, Canberra. After a range of successful commissions including the Capitol theatre in Melbourne, Australia was proud to call Griffin one of our own.

Griffin was greatly influenced by the period he spent studying at the Prairie School in Chicago, where he began to develop his unique modern style. After obtaining a bachelor of science in architecture from the University of Illinois, Griffin was inspired to work as a draughtsman with celebrated US architect Frank Lloyd Wright.For much of his career Griffin worked in partnership with his wife Marion Mahony Griffin. In the 28 years of their architectural partnership, the Griffins designed over 350 buildings, as well as landscaping and urban-design projects.

The Griffins’ first major commission after leaving Canberra was the Capitol Theatre in Melbourne which opened in November 1924 — and remains today a true Art Deco masterpiece. The theatre has received extensive international praise; in 1965 architectural writer Robin Boyd described the it as “the best cinema that was ever built or is ever likely to be built”. More locally the Heritage listed Capitol has long been a unique location for stunning wedding day photography. The striking architecture of exterior façade is perfect as a backdrop for intimate portraits of the bride and groom. The interior is just as spectacular; boasting intricate stain glass windows, impressive geometric ceilings the space is light, open and elegantly modern. The walls remain a unique vision; a breathtaking visual effect is created through the thousands of coloured lamps which were incorporated into the plaster paneling — providing a magical cave like effect.

In Melbourne we are lucky to be able to experience first hand the beautiful work of Walter Burley Griffin. At Serendipity  we highly recommend considering the unique Capitol Theatre as an alternative backdrop for exceptional wedding day photography. At 113 Swanston Street, the theatres prominent position in the heart of the CBD and close proximity to a number of other great landmarks such as the Melbourne Town Hall, Federation Square, Melbourne’s GPO and St Paul’s Cathedral makes it a wonderful option for capturing romantic portraits of the newly wed couple!


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