National Library of Australia
The collection comprises papers, reports, publications, photographs and correspondence which document aspects of Overall's outstanding career as an architect and urban planner. Of particular interest are the items which record his significant role as the National Capital Development Commissioner, together with his long association with planning for New Parliament House, including chairmanship of the New Parliament House Design Competition.
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1109579).
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Sir John Overall, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file number]'.
The MS 4874 consignments were donated in two instalments: the main instalment by Overall in 1975, and a smaller addition by his son, Tim, in 2001.
The MS 4874 consignments were arranged in the six series groupings by National Library staff in 2002. For the most part, within each series the material has been retained in the order in which it was transferred to the Library.
Further correspondence by Overall is located among the Records Relating to the Grenfell Ruddock Memorial (MS 4588). Texts of a speech given by Overall at the opening of St John's Schoolhouse Museum, Canberra in 1969 are held at MS 2662 and MS 4577. An interview recorded by Mel Pratt with Overall in 1973 is in the Oral History Collection at ORAL TRC 121/45. Other papers relating to Overall's official duties in the Commonwealth Works Department, the National Capital Development Commission and Cities Commission will be found in the collections of the National Archives of Australia.
|1913||Born 15 July|
|1920s||Educated, Sydney Technical College|
|1931-1935||Robertson and Marks, Architects, Sydney|
|1935-1939||Stephenson and Turner, Architects, Sydney|
|1940-1946||Engineering Officer, Australian Infantry Force and Commanding Officer, First Australian Parachute Battalion; awarded Military Cross|
|1943||Married Margaret Goodman|
|1946||Awarded Board of Architects New South Wales Overseas Travelling Scholarship|
|1946-1948||Chief Architect, South Australian Housing Trust|
|1948-1951||Private practice, South Australia|
|1949||Awarded Australian Medallion, Board of Architects New South Wales|
|1951-1952||Deputy Chief Architect, Commonwealth Works Department|
|1953-1957||Chief Architect, Commonwealth Works Department|
|1956||Chairman, Olympic Games Fine Arts and Sculpture Committee|
|1958-1972||Commissioner, National Capital Development Commission|
|1962||Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire|
|1964||Awarded Sidney Luker Memorial Medal|
|1967||Adviser to the New South Wales Government on the redevelopment of Central Sydney|
|1970||Awarded Sir James Barrett Medal; Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Australian Exhibit Organisation, Expo' 70|
|1970-1971||President and Chairman, Australian Institute of Urban Studies|
|1971-1975||Member of Australian Academy of Science, Science and Industry Forum|
|1972-1973||Foundation Commissioner, National Urban and Regional Development Authority (renamed in this period the Cities Commission)|
|1973-1974||Adviser to the United Nations|
|1973-1983||Principal, John Overall and Partners; Director, Lend Lease Development Corporation, Sydney|
|1975-1983||Director and Chairman, Alliance Holdings|
|1976-1983||Director, General Property Trust|
|1979-1980||Chairman of Assessors, Competition for New Parliament House, Canberra|
|1979-1985||Member, Parliament House Construction Authority|
|1981||Parliament House Canberra : two stage design competition : assessors' final report|
|1982||Inaugural recipient, Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal|
|1984||Honorary Fellow, American Institute of Architects|
|1991||Published Canberra : reflections|
|1995||Published Canberra : yesterday, today and tomorrow : a personal memoir|
|2001||Died in Canberra, 2 September|
In 1946 Overall was the recipient of the New South Wales Board of Works Overseas Travelling Scholarship in Architecture. He used the award to travel to Europe in 1949 where he surveyed trends in architectural and urban design. This series contains typescripts of two reports which record his observations, and include photographs of the buildings and cities visited. Based on the results of his European investigations, Overall received the Board's Australian Medallion.
Overall held the position of Australian Government Chief Architect in the Commonwealth Works Department between 1953 and 1957. This series contains some ministerial notes and correspondence relating to the development of Canberra, together with documents recording his proposed appointment to the National Capital Development Authority.
In 1958 Overall was appointed Commissioner of the then National Capital Development Authority (from late 1959 known as the National Capital Development Commission), where he oversaw a period of great transition and expansion in Canberra's planning and development. He served in this capacity for 14 years, before taking up the position of Commissioner of the newly created National Urban and Regional Development Authority in 1972.
The series chiefly comprises published and unpublished reports of investigations and study tours, together with the results of a consultation undertaken on the Rocks Area of Sydney. Also included are some submissions and photographs of Canberra's development, and an interesting sequence of files on the design philosophy of Canberra.
Papers relating to Overall's association with the planning for, and design of, New Parliament House are contained in Series 5.
Overall served as the foundation Commissioner of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority from 1972 to 1973, during which period it was renamed the Cities Commission. In mid-1973 he put into effect a long-held personal plan to retire at the age of 60, and established his own architectural design firm, John Overall & Partners.
Included in this series are copies of ministerial papers and published reports relating to the Cities Commission activities. A transcript of an interview conducted by Mel Pratt with Overall on his retirement from office is contained in Folder 19.
Overall first became associated with plans for a new and permanent Parliament House whilst Chief Architect in the Commonwealth Works Department in the mid-1950s. A decade later, as NCDC Commissioner and a member of the specially convened National Area Study Group, he was closely involved with investigations into the proposed site for the building. This long-standing association with the design of the structure was extended in 1979-1980 when he served as Chairman of the New Parliament House Design Competition, and through his membership of the Parliament House Construction Authority in the period 1979 to 1985.
This series contains papers which document a number of the stages of the siting and design process, including minutes of the National Area Study Group, government submissions and comparative studies of other parliamentary buildings. Of special interest, Files 15-16 comprise a special commemorative File of papers and photographs which were presented to the judges of the New Parliament House Design Competition, to record the development of the final plan.
A series containing a sequence of files entitled 'Book notes' and related correspondence, which comprise research notes compiled by Overall, principally for his histories on Canberra's development.