Romaldo Giurgola

Romaldo "Aldo" Giurgola AO (2 September 1920 – 16 May 2016) was an Italian academic, architect, professor, and author. Giurgola was born in Rome, Italy 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. In 1954, Giurgola accepted a position as an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.[2] Shortly thereafter, Giurgola formed Mitchell/Giurgola Architects in Philadelphia with Ehrman B. Mitchell in 1958.[3] In 1966, Giurgola became chair of the Columbia University School of Architecture and Planning in New York City, where he opened a second office of the firm.[4] In 1980 under Giurgola's direction, the firm won an international competition to design a new Australian parliament building.[5] Giurgola moved to Canberra, Australia to oversee the project. In 1989, after its completion and official opening in 1988, the Parliament House was recognized with the top award for public architecture in Australia.

Romaldo Giurgola
Born(1920-09-02)2 September 1920
Rome (or Galatina),[1] Italy
Died16 May 2016(2016-05-16) (aged 95)
Canberra, Australia
NationalityItalian and Australian
Alma materSapienza University of Rome, Columbia University
AwardsAIA Gold Medal (1982)
RAIA Gold Medal (1988)
Officer of the Order of Australia (1989 )
Australian Centenary Medal (2001)
Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings (2004)
BuildingsParliament House in Canberra


Giurgola was a professor at Cornell University and at the University of Pennsylvania, before becoming chair of the Columbia Architecture Department in 1966. He was later named the Ware Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Columbia.


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

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.[6] After winning, Giurgola moved to Australia and practiced there. He adopted Australian citizenship in January 2000.[7]

Honours and awards

In 1982, he was awarded the AIA Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects

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

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) honored Giurgola with its Distinguished Professor Award in 1987-88.[8]

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".[9] The award became substantive when he adopted Australian citizenship in 2000.[7]

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".[10]

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.[7]

A resident of Canberra since the 1980s, by 2005 Giurgola had built his own house at Lake Bathurst near Goulburn.[7]

The portrait of Romaldo Giurgola painted by Mandy Martin, was gifted by the RAIA to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra in 2005.[11]



  1. "Romaldo Giurgola, Architect of Australia's Parliament House, Dies at 95". New York Times. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  2. "Architectural Archives | PennDesign". Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  3. Bernstein, Fred A. (16 May 2016). "Romaldo Giurgola, Architect of Australia's Parliament House, Dies at 95". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  4. Bernstein, Fred A. (16 May 2016). "Romaldo Giurgola, Architect of Australia's Parliament House, Dies at 95". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. "Architectural Archives | PennDesign". Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  6. Tony Stephens, Like his work, he'll blend into the landscape, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1999
  7. The unsung hero of the hill, Steve Meacham, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2005
  8. "Distinguished Professor Award winners". Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. It's an Honour: Hon AO
  10. It's an Honour: Centenary Medal
  11. "Romaldo Giurgola". architecturemedia. February 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  12. "Boston Public Library, South End Branch, Drawings, Photos, Papers, etc". American Architects and Buildings. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  13. Pioneer priest vows to die with his boots on, Graham Downie, Canberra Times, 4 August 2012, accessed 13 August 2012

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