Guide to the Records of Bunning and Madden


MS 9871

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Bunning and Madden
Records of Bunning and Madden
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9871
12.9 metres (87 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

Following a limited competition, the Sydney architectural firm Bunning & Madden (B&M) in association with Tom O'Mahony were chosen in 1961 to design the National Library of Australia building on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The principal architect, Walter Bunning, came up with a design for a large central building flanked by two smaller buildings to be constructed over a 40 year period. The first stage of the library, the central wing, was opened in 1968. During the next few years, the lower ground floors were completed. In 1979 the firm was contracted to carry out an extension of the podium on the lake side of the building. After a contracted dispute with trade unions in 1983, it was decided that the asbestos in the library's roof should be removed. Progress on the library podium extension was also troubled by a major fire in 1985. In 1988 B&M's formal association with the library ended.

The files in the Bunning & Madden papers consist mostly of correspondence between B&M, their builders, subcontractors and the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) which had the responsibility for overseeing all development in the Parliamentary Triangle.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Records of Bunning and Madden, National Library of Australia, MS 9871, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Some of the plans drawn by B&M are held in the NLA's Pictures Collection.

Item Descriptions

Series. NLA CENTRAL BUILDING, 1962-1968

Bill of Quantities (File) - box 1-2

Variations to the Bill of Quantities (File) - box 3

Specifications (File) - box 4

For: architectural hardware; bookstacks; bronze work; built-up roofing; bulk excavation, fencing and haul roads; carpet floor covering; copper roofing; demountable partitions; exposed aggregate finishes; external masonry

Specifications (File) - box 5

For: fire alarms; flooring; forecourt fountain; fountain pool finishing; internal bronze work, exterior balustrade standards; internal fibrous plaster; internal marble work; joinery items; kitchen & tea room equipment; lift installation; luminaries; pneumatic tube conveyor; selective vertical conveyor; masonry work; special doors; vinyl fabric wall coverings; suspended metal ceiling

Specifications for Special doors (File) - box 6

Work Diaries, 1964-69 (File) - box 6

Completed by the site architect, Noel Potter, during construction of the NLA building. It has brief entries about major daily activities on all B&M projects in Canberra at the time.

Tenders (File) - box 7

For : detailed planning; bulk excavations (includes test results of slate & marble to be used); joinery details; marble tenders

Minutes of Meetings (File) - box 8

NLA site meetings, 1964-68, between the architects, builders and contractors; Architects co-ordination meetings, 1968-69, between the architects, builders and contractors; Library Building Working Committee, 1964-68, between the architects and officers of the NCDC and the NLA.

Progress Payments, 1964-68 (2 folders) (File) - box 9

Clerk of Works reports, 1865-68 (2 folders) (File) - box 9

Handover lists, 19/4/68-19/7/68 (File) - box 9

Accounts Fees (File) - box 10

Prime Cost Items (File) - box 11

Roller Shutters (File) - box 11

General correspondence no 1, 1961-62 (File) - box 12

Includes results of geological survey of the site

General correspondence no 2, 1960-63 (File) - box 12

Includes information about Walter Bunning's trip overseas in 1961 to study library design, and correspondence with library consultant, Keyes Metcalf, and the chairman of the NLA Council, Sir Archibald Grenfell Price. Also contains some costings and receipts for material, a copy of the architectural brief, fire safety reports, and some minutes of the meetings of the Library Building Working Committee

General correspondence no 3, 1963 (File) - box 13

General correspondence no 4, 1964-65 (File) - box 13

General correspondence no 5, 1966 (File) - box 14

Includes geological test results of Travertine & Carrara marble

General correspondence no 6, 1967 (File) - box 14

General correspondence no 7, 1968 (File) - box 15

(includes Keys Metcalf's final report on the library)

General correspondence no 8, 1968/69 (File) - box 15

(includes Douglas Annand's notes on his design of the NLA's Coat-of-Arms)

Correspondence with NCDC, 1964-68 (File) - box 16

Has a few letters to 1978

Correspondence with PDC Constructions, 1964-68 (File) - box 17-18

PDC Constructions, also known as Clementsons, was the building contractor

Inter-office correspondence, 1964-68 (File) - box 19

Concerning the NLA project, between the main office of B&M in Sydney and its Canberra branch established in 1964. Includes schedule of finishes - paints, vinyls and woods used in various areas

Correspondence (File) - box 20

Re mechanical services (fire alarms, vertical conveyor, pneumatic tuble, air conditioning, electrical sub-contract); fountain (consists mainly of plans); furniture (includes designs of furniture for the Arts building at the ANU); furniture fittings

Correspondence (File) - box 21

Re bronze windows; roof & ceilings; internal bronze and special doors; sanitary fittings; handrails

Correspondence (File) - box 22

Re stone masonry; electrical

Correspondence (File) - box 23

Re structural; includes a folder of plans of amendments

Correspondence (File) - box 24

Re airconditioning, 1964-70

Floor coverings and Minor Prime Cost Items, 1966-68 (File) - box 25

Roof and ceiling, 1964-68 (File) - box 25

Joinery, 1966-67 (File) - box 26

Mechanical, 1964-68 (roofing, sumps and pumps, gravel grouting, concrete core)

Lifts and conveyors, 1964-70 (File) - box 27

Fire protection, 1966-70

Minor Prime Cost items (File) - box 28

Exposed aggregates

Miscellaneous files, 1961-68 (File) - box 29

Contracts with PDC Constructions (builders) and Chubbs (bronze work); list of daily routine checks and monthly maintenance; articles about marble; Johns & Waygoods Ltd tender for the lifts; results of Commonwealth Experimental Building Station test on 'The Resistance to Freezing and Thawing of two exposed Aggregate Finishes'; master key schedule; correspondence between B&M and the electrical subcontractor, Julius Poole; return of employees, 1966-67; electrical works


Contract documents and Bill of Quantities (File) - box 30

LG1 and LG2 completion, 1969-70 (File) - box 30

Extension to electrical installation and airconditioning, 1969-70 (File) - box 30

Remedial action on marble cladding of external columns, 1978 (File) - box 30

Electrical services and floodlighting, 1968-69 (File) - box 31

Extension to Lifts and airconditioning (File) - box 32

Clerk of Works reports, 1973-1974 (File) - box 33

NLA Working Committee Reports, 1968-73 (File) - box 33

Progress certificates, 1972-75 (File) - box 33

Correspondence with Citra Building Contractors, 1973-74 (File) - box 34

Correspondence with Julius Poole Gibson, electrical consultants, 1968-76 (File) - box 34

Correspondence with NCDC, 1968-74 (File) - box 35

Includes report to Cabinet by the NLA Council on future building requirements, Dec 1970

Minor Works, correspondence files (File) - box 36

lighting of main entrance steps & forecourt, 1978-82; re-partitioning, 1975

Correspondence (File) - box 37

Re map section relocation, 1978-81 ; Petherick Room repartitioning, 1978-81

Marble Cladding Rectification, 1972-80 (File) - box 38

damage to external columns (includes reports on, and photos of, tests done of the buckling of the NLA marble columns); Clerks of Work reports

Series. COMPUTER SUITES, 1975-1981

Correspondence files, 1975-81 (File) - box 39-41

Miscellaneous files (File) - box 42

article on designing the new British Library, 1979; Lawrence Field's operational study of the NLA; preliminary signage survey for the NLA, 1988 (has photo of existing signs); operational manual for Shinwa cooling tower


Contract documents (File) - box 43

Articles about health hazards of asbestos (File) - box 43

Reports on asbestos at the NLA (includes photos of asbestos in the ceiling), 1983-84 (File) - box 44

Tender for asbestos removal, 1984 (File) - box 44

Minutes of site meetings, 1984-85 (File) - box 44

Progress Payments, 1984-85 (File) - box 45

Reports on asbestos removal, 198? (File) - box 45

Asbestos monitoring reports, 1984-85 (File) - box 46-47

Series. NLA FIRE

Papers including some letters on asbestos removal, 1985 (File) - box 48

Report by Wormald Fire Systems on fire hazards at the NLA, 1985 (was written shortly after the fire, includes photos) (File) - box 48

Fire Rectification Works, 1985 (File) - box 49


Contract documents specifications (File) - box 50-52

Correspondence with NCDC (File) - box 53-54

Correspondence with building contractor, Leighton's (File) - box 55-58

Structural (File) - box 59

Hydraulics; Mechanical (File) - box 60

Mechanical; Electrical (File) - box 61

Electrical; Halon (File) - box 62

Sprinklers; Additional drawings (File) - box 63

Variation notices orders (File) - box 64-66

Site instructions; Site meetings (File) - box 67

Site meetings; Clerk of Works reports (File) - box 68

Clerk of Works reports; NCDC Monthly reports (File) - box 69

Monthly reports (File) - box 70

Progress payments (File) - box 71-72

Rise Fall (File) - box 73

Requests for information; Transmittal forms (File) - box 74

Transmittal forms; Fine detail drawings (File) - box 75

Furniture fittings; Extensions dispute (File) - box 76

Fees (File) - box 77

Fees (File) - box 78

Extension of time and Trades Labour Council dispute (File) - box 78

Fire safety measures (File) - box 79

3rd Floor refurbishment (File) - box 79

Minor Works (File) - box 80-81

Separate Jobs (File) - box 82

Amalgamation of canteens (File) - box 83

Music Sound (File) - box 83

Music Sound (File) - box 84

NLA correspondence (File) - box 85

Miscellaneous (File) - box 86-87