Architecture and Planning celebrates first 100 years

18 July 2017
Top: View of the old army huts and timber studio that housed the School until the late 1970s when the current building was opened. Below: The Symonds Street entrance to the Faculty in 1991.

The School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland celebrates its centenary in September with a series of events including exhibitions, a symposium and the launch of a book detailing the school’s rich history.

In its modest beginnings in 1917, the Auckland School of Architecture offered just three night classes a week held in a cold and dilapidated basement.

Jump forward 100 years and the school, which now includes the disciplines of urban planning, urban design and heritage conservation, offers thirteen degrees to the equivalent of about 800 full-time students per year.

The importance of well-educated architects to the community was acknowledged as early as the 1920s when the New Zealand Institute of Architects urged the University College - as it was known at the time - to extend the scope of the school.

As a result, in 1925 Professor Cyril Roy Knight was appointed the first Chair of Architecture in the country and only the second in Australasia. Educated in the UK and working in New York, Knight represented a trans-Atlantic engagement with the Beaux-Arts method of teaching, an academic neoclassical-style that he promoted here.

By 1946 the world had changed and students including returned servicemen from WW2 demanded to be taught more modern methods, which initiated a move away from the Beaux Arts teaching and towards a greater interest in contemporary architecture by NZ architects.

In the 1950s Professor Knight and lecturer Gerhard Rosenberg led the movement to establish a programme in town planning, and in 1958 the Department of Town Planning – the first in New Zealand - welcomed students.

Many of the iconic structures and designs that shape New Zealand’s landscape are the products of our graduates, and a number of current students are the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews or grandchildren of staff and alumni.

As New Zealand’s first institution teaching both architecture and planning, the school occupies a significant position in the history of both disciplines.

Please register to join us in celebrating this milestone. For more information visit

School of Architecture and Planning Centenary
7-9 September 2017

• Thursday 7 September, 4-6pm: the opening of an exhibition of current student work in the Level 3 Exhibition Studio, Architecture & Planning (Building 421), 26 Symonds Street, combined with the opening of a new and expanded edition of the Architecture + Women New Zealand Timeline on Level 2;

• Friday 8 September, 8.30am-4pm: a symposium titled “Educating Architects and Planners, 1917-2017”, to be held in the University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds Street;

• Friday 8 September, 5.30-7.30pm: the opening of an exhibition on the history of the School at the Gus Fisher Gallery, 74 Shortland Street, including also the launch of a book on the School, written by staff and titled The Auckland School: 100 Years of Architecture and Planning;

• Saturday 9 September, 9am-4pm: Friday’s symposium continues until 11am Saturday, followed by a series of panel discussions bringing together groups of alumni from different generations, to be held in the University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds Street;

• Saturday 9 September, from 6.30pm: an alumni gala dinner, at the Pullman Hotel, Cnr Princes Street and Waterloo Quadrant; and

• Sunday 10 September: we encourage alumni to make plans to reconnect with old classmates.

Media queries to:
Miranda Playfair
Phone 021 063 8393