Leslie Wilkinson

Leslie Wilkinson OBE (born 12 October 1882 at New Southgate, Middlesex, England; died 20 September 1973 at Vaucluse, New South Wales, Australia) was a professor of architecture at University of Sydney. His whole life was dedicated to architecture as both an academic and practising architect.[1]

Leslie Wilkinson OBE
Professor Leslie Wilkinson by Anthony Browell
Born(1882-10-12)12 October 1882
Died20 September 1973(1973-09-20) (aged 90)
Alma materRoyal Academy of Arts
PracticeUniversity of Sydney

Wilkinson was the founding dean of the faculty of architecture at University of Sydney in 1920. His ideals on architecture as a form of art had strongly influenced both the school and its students. The emphasis on the teaching of philosophy and practice of design was at the time a frontier in architecture education.[2] Wilkinson was never a part of the modern architecture movement. His work, both as a teacher and practising architect, was consistently involved only with traditional architecture, which was inspired by Australian's colonial heritage and Mediterranean architecture. This is contributed by his background training at the Royal Academy of Arts and his study tours in France, Italy, Spain and Great Britain. Wilkinson's influential work is seen in residential, church and University of Sydney master plan.[3]


Leslie Wilkinson was the younger son of commercial clerk Edward Henry Wilkinson. In his early years, he studied at St Edward's School, Oxford and at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, winning several awards, including the touring scholarship (1904,1905) that allowed him to travel to France, Italy, Spain and England. It was in these early years that his fascination with Mediterranean architecture developed.[4] Wilkinson was James S. Gibson's assistant in 1900. He was an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1907. In 1908, he became Professor F. M. Simpson's assistant at University College in London and later became assistant professor. He enlisted in the Territorial Force during World War I.

Wilkinson had successfully applied for the creation of the faculty of architecture at the University of Sydney. He was appointed as the dean and continued for four years to move architectural education more towards the theory and philosophies of design. During his career as an academic, Wilkinson had also practised as architect. He was appointed the University of Sydney architect in 1919, during which he contributed to the university's master plan, inspired by the Walter Burley Griffin's previous unused 1915 campus masterplan.[5] He was also influential in designing residential and church architecture[6] and became the first president of New South Wales state chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1933. Wilkinson won the first gold medal in 1961. In that year the award was named the Wilkinson Award in his honour.

Notable projects


  • Completion of Edmund Blacket's Gothic Revival Quadrangle, University of Sydney, 1919
  • Chemistry Building, University of Sydney, 1923
  • Physics Building, University of Sydney, 1926


  • Wilkinson Residence, Greenway, 1923
  • Verona Residence, Double Bay, 1923[7]
  • Silchester, Bellevue Hill, 1930
  • Greyleaves, Burradoo, 1934
  • Samuel Hordern Residence, Bellevue Hill, 1936
  • Maiala, Warrawee, 1937
  • Hazeldean, Cooma, 1937
  • Markdale Homestead, Crookwell, 1951


  • St John's Church of England, Penshurst, Sydney
  • St John's Church of England, Maroubra, Sydney
  • St Paul's Church, Harris Park, Sydney
  • Completion of Blacket's St Michael's Anglican Church, Vaucluse


  • Royal Academy of Art Silver Medal, 1903
  • Royal Academy of Art Gold Medal, 1905
  • Sulman Medal, 1934
  • Sulman Medal, 1942
  • Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal, 1961 (Now known as Wilkinson Awards)
  • Honorary Award, University of Sydney, 1970


  1. Lucas, Clive. "Wilkinson, Leslie (1882-1973)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, 1990
  2. R. N. Johnson, ["Leslie Wilkinson and His Architecture"], Art and Australia, Volume 12, 1974
  3. S. Falkiner, ["Leslie Wilkinson a Practical Idealist"], Leslie Wilkinson a Practical Idealist, 1982
  4. Clive Lucas, "Wilkinson, Leslie (1882-1973)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, 1990
  5. "Grimshaw completes 'gateway' administration building for University of Sydney". ArchitectureAU. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  6. R. N. Johnson, ["Leslie Wilkinson and His Architecture"], Art and Australia, Volume 12, 1974
  7. Macken, Lucy (27 September 2018). "Mike Cannon-Brookes paid $17m for Double Bay house day after he bought $100m Fairwater estate". Domain. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
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