Two important architects of the Australian scene have passed away. Tributes are flowing for Indigenous architectural anthropologist Elizabeth Grant and notable Sydney modernist architect Denis (John) Allen.

Elizabeth Grant

Elizabeth Grant’s contributions to architecture, criminology and anthropology are extensive, awarded and ground-breaking. She sadly passed away peacefully in her sleep on 5 July 2022. 

Her expertise was in the field of Indigenous architecture and place-making, housing and community infrastructure, institutional environment design (particularly the design of criminal justice and education environments), design for disabilities, and reform for Indigenous peoples. Her commitment was respected worldwide. 

She was an Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University and held an adjunct Associate Professorship at the University of Queensland and Adjunct Professorship at the University of Canberra.

A Churchill Fellow, with four published books and over 70 papers, Associate Professor Grant served as a peer reviewer and referee for more than 10 international journals. She was also lead editor of the International Handbook of Contemporary Indigenous Architecture, published in 2018. 

In 2015, she was honoured with the International Prison and Correctional Association Excellence in Research Award for her work in this area. In 2017, she was invited to submit to three Government inquiries; she was appointed as an expert witness and participant for closed forums as part of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

In 2018, she appeared before Ministerial and Senate inquiries into the housing needs of First Nations Peoples living with a disability. She also appeared before the Australian Senate, and was appointed as an international expert for the New Zealand Government’s H?paitia te Oranga Tangata Process on the humane design of places of detention for M?ori and Pacific Islanders.

Associate Professor Grant was an elected member of Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, a member of the International Association for People-Environment Studies, the Environmental Design Research Association, the Architectural Humanities Research Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Australian New Zealand Society of Criminology, the Australia and New Zealand Chapter of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and a member of the expert panel of the International Corrections and Prisons Association research group.

She also established the Indigenous Architecture Facebook page, in 2013 – it has now grown to almost 13,000 members. 

A post shared to the Facebook page reads: “Elizabeth’s energy, drive, determination, wit and passion will be fondly remembered. Elizabeth is a mother, grandmother, and loving partner, and we send our deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.”

Her memorial service will be held on Friday 15 July at the Braggs Building, University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus, SA, at 4pm start. 

Denis (John) Allen

John Allen was a notable modernist architect in Sydney from the mid 1950s through the 1980s and one of the practice founders of Allen Jack+Cottier Architects, alongside Russell Jack and Keith Cottier. Mr Allen passed away peacefully on 11 July 2022 aged 95 at Pathways Killara Gardens. 

Mr Allen’s work at the firm helped it become an award-winning architectural practice with offices in Sydney and Beijing.

“Even through his years in retirement, John loved connecting with the profession and the practice that he built. Right up until the Covid lockdowns of 2020, John would visit our studio once or twice each year, stopping at every desk to have a chat and review major projects we were working on. 

“On one of those visits, we shared a particularly poignant moment when I introduced John as the first staff member of AJ+C to our newest, youngest staff member (roughly the 1500th person to be employed by the firm). That regular contact was very important to him,” Michael Heenan, chief executive officer of the company said. 

Mr Allen is survived by two sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. 

A memorial service will be held on Friday 15 July at Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium, NSW, at 3pm. 

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