|Birth Day:||June 25, 1923|
|Death Date:||Mar 9, 2006 (age 82)|
As per our current Database, Harry Seidler died on Mar 9, 2006 (age 82).
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He was detained by British authorities in May 1940 as an enemy alien and placed in an internment camp on the Isle of Man, after which he was deported to another internment camp in Quebec. He was released in October 1941 and enrolled in the University of Manitoba's architectural program.
Seidler was born in Vienna, the son of a Jewish clothing manufacturer. He fled as a teenager to England soon after Nazi Germany occupied Austria in 1938.
In England, he studied building and construction at Cambridgeshire Technical School. Even though he was categorised by British wartime tribunal as a "Category C – no risk" refugee fleeing the Nazis, because he was born in Austria, on 12 May 1940, he was interned by the British authorities as an enemy alien, where he was in internment camps first at Huyton near Liverpool, then on the Isle of Man before being shipped to Quebec, Canada and continued to be interned until October 1941, when he was released on probational release from internment to study architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where he graduated with first class honours in 1944.
After working briefly for an architectural firm in Toronto, Seidler (at the age of 21) became a registered as an architect in Ontario, in February 1945. He became a Canadian citizen in late 1945.
Although he was ten years old when the Bauhaus was closed, Seidler's analysts invariably associate him with the Bauhaus because he later studied under emigrent Bauhaus teachers in the USA. He attended Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer on a scholarship in 1945/46, during which time he did vacation work with Alvar Aalto in Boston drawing up plans for the Baker dormitory at MIT. He then studied visual aesthetics at Black Mountain College under the painter Josef Albers in mid 1946.
Seidler's parents migrated to Sydney in 1946, and (while he was working for Breuer in New York) in early 1948, his mother wrote to him to commission him to come to Sydney to design their home. Seidler arrived in Sydney on 20 June 1948 (which was a few days before his 25th birthday) , with no intention to remain in Australia, but to stay only until the house was finished. The house became known as the Rose Seidler House (1948–1950), in Wahroonga, in remote bushland of a suburb on Sydney's Upper North Shore. This project was the first completely modern domestic residence to fully express the philosophy and visual language of the Bauhaus in Australia and won the Sulman Award of 1951. From the huge publicity of this house, others approached Seidler to design their homes. With so many clients and his enjoyment of the Sydney climate and harbour views, Seidler decided to stay in Australia. The Rose Seidler House became a house-museum in 1991.
Harry Seidler travelled to Australia in 1948 on his Canadian passport (which he collected in mid-1946). By 1958, he had lived in Australia for ten years, and then sought to renew his Canadian passport but was unable to do so because he had been a naturalised Canadian who had not lived in Canada for more than three years). He became an Australian citizen in late 1958 so he would have a passport to travel for work and his honeymoon. Harry Seidler married Penelope Evatt, daughter of Clive Evatt on 15 December 1958; they had two children.
Seidler's work shows a mix of influences from four great modern masters under whom he studied or worked with: Walter Gropius, Marcell Breuer, (artist) Josef Albers and Oscar Niemeyer. Seidler maintained relationships with his four mentors even after he came to Australia. Seidler was instrumental in having Walter Gropius address the RAIA Convention in Sydney in 1954. Seidler collaborated with Marcell Breuer for the Australian Embassy in Paris (as Breuer had a Paris office) and Seidler was Breuer's project architect for the Torin Factory in Penrith NSW in the 1970s. Seidler commissioned Josef Albers artworks for MLC Centre in the mid-1970s. Seidler also maintained a close friendship with Oscar Niemeyer through letters and visits to Rio de Janeiro.
Penelope Seidler, herself an architect, gained her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Sydney and joined Seidler and Associates in 1964 as architect and financial manager. She co-designed the Harry & Penelope Seidler House in Killara (suburb of Sydney) which won the NSW Wilkinson award of 1967.
In 1966, he helped lead the protests to try to keep Jørn Utzon as the principal architect of the Sydney Opera House.
Seidler was a frequent and enthusiastic collaborator with visual artists in the creation of his buildings. While his artist collaborators include famous or notable figures such as Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Lin Utzon, Norman Carlberg, Charles O. Perry (the last two were fellow but later student of Josef Albers), Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt and many others, by far the most important of the collaborators was his mentor Albers. Seidler included works by Albers – perhaps the single person most influential on his design philosophy – in a number of projects (notably the MLC Centre with 'Homage to the Square' (later repurchased by the Albers Foundation, and Albers' last commissioned-design 'Wrestling' on the eastern side of MLC Plaza). Seidler also arranged in 1966 for the Australia Square tower ground lobby to display tapestries by Le Corbusier and Victor Vasarely – these were replaced in late 2003 by the Sol LeWitt mural. Seidler also selected and paid for Australian artworks to be shipped in 1977 to be ready to be displayed for the opening of the Australian Embassy in Paris in early 1978. As Paul Bartizan indicates in his obituary tribute to Seidler, these works of art were not mere 'plop art'; they were really planned to be integrated with and complementary to the buildings into which they were placed: "In many of his projects, Seidler worked with artists whose works became an intrinsic component of his designs."
In the 1960s and 70s Seidler worked with the Italian structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi for the design of the Australia Square and MLC Centre office towers, in Sydney, the Edmund Barton Building (formerly called Trade Group Offices) in Canberra, and the Australian Embassy in Paris in the 1970s. the same Nervi- designed T beams were used by Seidler in his own Seidler Office building in Milsons Point (Sydney) completed in 1973. Seidler later worked with Nervi's successor Mario Desideri for the Riverside Centre in Brisbane.
He was a founding member of the Australian Architecture Association. In 1984 he became the first Australian to be elected a member of the Académie d'architecture, Paris and in 1987 was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, an honour which he accepted in his trademark suit and bowtie. Over the years Mr Seidler was also awarded five Sulman Medals by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, as well as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1976, and the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1996.
In 1991, Seidler acknowledged that his first house (Rose Seidler House) which was built of timber, despite the north facing sunshades "is generally too vulnerable to temperature changes...I didn't fully appreciate the intensity of the Australian sun". Thus, later in his career, he sought to use more thermally stable materials like reinforced concrete and to respond to the Australian climate by the extensive use of sunshades and flamboyantly-shaped rain protecting canopies on his skyscrapers, (such as Grosvenor Place, Riverside Centre, and QV1), large covered balconies in his houses, as well as shaping his designs to maximize views and enjoyment of the outdoors from inside.
On 24 April 2005, Seidler suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered, and died from septicaemia in Sydney on 9 March 2006 at age 82.
Currently, Harry Seidler is 99 years, 0 months and 1 days old. Harry Seidler will celebrate 100th birthday on a Sunday 25th of June 2023.
Find out about Harry Seidler birthday activities in timeline view here.