SMH LETTER TO THE EDITOR

1/10/10

Madigan DNA

I have always admired David Marr’s work but fear that this time he is misinformed. Sadly, in my opinion, because one of our great architect’s Col Madigan, Australia’s Louis Kahn, is being maligned in his SMH article 1/10/10. My opinion is informed by being one of Col’s colleagues, and assistants in this battle for him to be heard properly over the last 8 or 9 years. Labelled irascible and difficult, Madigan only ever wanted the extension to understand the DNA of his building. That a new architect should take the job, and make a new start, was never objected to by Madigan. I have watched and collated over the years the generous and wonderful dialogue of drawings and models that Col, coincidentally dying of cancer, has produced from his kitchen table. Endlessly ignored and played with, this work was all in vain. What a lost opportunity for dialogue with a great man. Arguably the beautiful bones of his structure were never understood as Canberra’s urban planning decisions continued to contradict the precinct. So close to a good outcome yet so far away. David as with your wonderful book “Dark Victory” about SIEV X the truth will out. We will be publishing a book about the work of Madigan on the NGA in these years – an inspiration to future architects, filled with wit, imagination and determination. Unbuilt but magnificent the drawings of a frail man will prevail.

Professor Richard Goodwin

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