Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105arising from the rough–n–ready, do–it–yourself culture of his New Zealand childhood—wasn’t professional enough to create the ultra– crisp finishes and junctions that he wanted for his architecture. As examples of his ‘clunky’ detailing, the concrete kerbs of his curved driveway are unevenly shaped and panelling under the canopy over the entry stairs has buckled. Current owners of the house, John and Diane Reidl, have heard a story that Harry Seidler once visited the site and advised Snelling to stop relying on his own capabilities and appoint professional tradesmen, as architects normally would advise their clients. Alexander Tzannes, the architect for RAIA Wilkinson Award– winning 1997 renovations to this house says he felt that the original architect (about whom he initially knew little) had been gifted, that his design should be largely preserved, but that he had been ‘a naïf’ in his understanding of structural technicalities. This perception seems to be supported by Snelling’s difficulties passing the B subjects (structures) of the Board of Architects’ exams. But already he was relying increasingly on staff architects to produce his working drawings and construction specifications, liaise with contractors and suppliers, and search for products. Plans of Snelling’s projects between 1949 and 1970 show no sign of Snelling being the draftsman (this is common; it was his role to win and manage clients). His distinctive style is evident in most of the perspective sketches. During 1953–1956, Snelling’s office was brimming with work. Projects included a sprawling factory for the Armco Steel Co at Sutherland (externally clad with vertical panels of stainless steel), retail fitouts for American Express, Matson (shipping) Lines and Pan American Airways, and houses for Mr and Mrs Keith Smith at Mosman and his furniture partner, Terry Palmerston, at St Ives. His 1951–53 modernisation of an 80–year–old boarding house called Lamington Hall, at 46 Margaret Street, for the Hartford Fire Insurance Co, led to a similar commission in 1954 to convert an 1840s sandstone building at 55 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, into the offices of JH Liddle and Epstein, Australian agents for Honeywell office machines. Recalls company director Jim Liddle in an April 2003 interview: We found this old sandstone building that had been used for wool storage but had caught fire a year before and was burnt out, with a lot of hidden damage. My partner, Freddy Epstein, took a picture of the building and came back on the Monday with an idea to make it look like a mushroom. Regardless of his fluidity with facts, he was establishing himself as a serious architect. While taking his exams (1950–1952) and building at Northbridge, he designed alterations to houses at Point Piper and Newport; a refit of the MacKellys department store in Grafton; fitouts for J Farren–Price at Ipswich in Queensland and the Berk car showroom in William Street, East Sydney; the Pam Pam coffee house in Macleay Street, Potts Point; and the Hartford Insurance HQ at 46 Margaret Street in the city. However, the two Newport houses and the Farren–Price showroom in Ipswich were never published as constructed. By now he had decided to hire the city’s leading architectural photographer, Max Dupain, to replace his previous favourite for interiors, Ray Leighton. Dupain’s outstanding black and white prints and large colour transparencies of Snelling’s best works from 1951 to the mid 1960s were his tickets to publicity and esteem. With rivers of hyperbole flowing his way in the early 1950s, Snelling became a magnet for other progressive professionals. For example, Colin Griffiths, then in partnership with Harry Seidler at an office converted from an apartment in Point Piper, recalled that there was regular contact between his office and Snelling: When I was at Seidler, he and Snelling were amiable—I wouldn’t say fraternal—they were rivals. Douglas had better clients. They were both self–publicists—they were probably pioneers of architectural publicity. Seidler was the white modernist, Snelling’s work was much warmer and more human. Another point of difference was landscape. Harry never thought of landscape as an adjunct to the building ... he always thought of it as a contrast. Douglas would always want to integrate the inside with the outdoors. In terms of the orthogonal spaces, though, there wasn’t a lot of difference between them. In those days, students and young architects used to go crawling over the building sites of their architects of interest. I used to go down on weekends to Northbridge and Douglas would be banging away. I used to get there on public transport and wander down the hill because I thought Snelling was a practitioner of interest. Or I used to find out on the grapevine what he was building and I would ring him up and make a time to meet him on site. I used to get hold of his plans and sections and draw them in my own hand. I did this because I was really trying to understand plans and sections. I also used to draw Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies houses at my own scale, to really get to understand space, heights and dimensions. The couple’s financial limitations were creating problems at Northbridge, because Snelling’s practical building experience— DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 52 53 1940–1955 1940–1955