Modi regales Obama, Abbott with tales of Griffin

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:07 am IST

Published - November 16, 2014 02:15 am IST - Brisbane

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday shared with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, and U.S. President Barack Obama the story of an architect who made a name in their three nations and is buried in Lucknow.

The leaders who met for the G20 summit here discussed Walter Burley Griffin, an American architect who designed the Australian capital of Canberra and left behind many works in India.

A couple of photos of the three leaders engaged in the discussion were posted on the Twitter account of External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. Another photo was of the final resting place of Griffin at the Lucknow Christian Cemetery.

Griffin, who died on February 11, 1937, at the age of 61, was a landscape architect. He is known for designing Canberra and had been credited with the development of the L-shaped floor plan, the carport and an innovative use of reinforced concrete.

Through contacts he and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, had during their time at the Greater Sydney Development Association, Griffin won a contract in 1935 to design the library at the University of Lucknow. Although he had planned to be in India only to complete the drawings for the library, he soon received more than 40 commissions, including those for the University of Lucknow Student Union building; a museum and library for the Raja of Mahmudabad; a zenana (women’s quarters) for the Raja of Jahangirabad; Pioneer Press building; a bank; municipal offices; many private houses; and a memorial to King George V.

Griffin won complete design responsibility for the 1936-37 United Provinces Exhibition of Industry and Agriculture. He was inspired by the architecture and culture of India, modifying forms as “he sought to create a modern Indian architecture.”

Marion travelled to Lucknow in April 1936 and contributed to several projects. Griffin died of peritonitis, five days after gall bladder surgery at King George’s Hospital in Lucknow.

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