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Peter Hall

by Louis Kahan

fibre-tipped pen, and pen and ink on paper (sheet: 47.9 cm x 32.9 cm)

Peter Hall (1931-1995), architect, completed the Sydney Opera House after the Danish architect Jørn Utzon resigned from the project and left Australia in 1966. He gained a travelling scholarship to study modernist architecture in Europe where he met Utzon. Hall was offered the job of designer appointed by the government to finish the ‘building’ which Utzon had left after other architects had refused the job. Once he had talked to Utzon, satisfied that he would never return, Hall took on the formidable task. Radical compromise to Utzon’s plans was required and Hall carried it through despite the ire and scorn of the design and architecture community. Later, he worked privately and in the Department of Construction and Housing in Canberra. Hall died prematurely, alcoholic and bankrupt in 1995. The 40th anniversary celebrations of the Sydney Opera House in 2013 virtually ignored the post-Utzon phase of the building, which was more than half of its construction time. Yet research since 2007 has built Hall’s non-existent reputation and it is now widely acknowledged that his valiant work on the building cost him his career.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2017.92