Saturday, 8 October 2016

T150 – Townsville Past & Present: Architecture in Townsville – Eddie Koiki Mabo Library

The "Architecture in Townsville" Special Collections displays on level 1 of the Mabo Library will be available for viewing until Wednesday the 12th of October.  The displays offer a rare opportunity to view a range of materials pertaining to the theme.
James Cook University Townsville campus library, c.1970, James Birrell Archive, Library Archives Collection. Photo Credit:  James Cook University, not to be reproduced without permission.

James Cook University Douglas Campus Library
The building now known as the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library was opened in 1970. It was designed by James Birrell who was the project architect and the design architect. Birrell had a story to tell about the acceptance of his design.

‘As the design was unique I visited Ken Back, the Vice Chancellor, at his weekender on Magnetic Island to discuss it prior to official presentation. We developed the plan on the sand in his front garden and he was thrilled.’

Birrell’s concept was for a three-storey rectangle of off-form concrete with an enormous overhanging steel-framed copper roof, noting Townsville’s connection with copper. The silhouettes of the concrete walls are intended to mirror the silhouettes of the mountain views around the campus. The roof drained into stone-filled drains similar to the dry creek beds on the site.

In 2006 the building received the 25 Year Architecture Award of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects – Queensland Chapter.

In 2008 the Library was renamed in honour of Eddie Koiki Mabo.

Australian Institute of Architects website.

- Ms Jean Dartnall and Dr Alan Dartnall

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