Built Heritage Consultants Melbourne
Dictionary of Unsung Architects   return to DUA index

Biographical Overview

The short-lived Melbourne architectural practice of Burrows & McKeown was formed in 1957 by Peter Barrington Burrows and Gerald Alexander McKeown.  The former, born in Ballarat on 6 November 1921, had already been in sole practice for some years, with an office in Collins Street, when he went into partnership with the younger McKeown.  Born in in the Mallee township of Nhill on 7 July 1924, McKeown had enlisted with the RAAF in 1942 and, after serving with the 29 Operational Training Unit, was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).  He completed studies in architecture at the University of Melbourne and, at the time of his registration in 1951, was employed in the city office of Bates Smart & McCutcheon.  

Burrows & McKeown's 1961 design for a Roman Catholic Primary School in Pascoe Vale South represented an atypical non-residential commission for a firm that was otherwise concentrated largely on small houses in the developing outer suburbs of Beaumaris and Ringwood - the latter where, in 1959, McKeown designed and built his own house.  A number of projects were published in the popular housing journals of the day, with their most celebrated design being a house in Cheltenham for accountant Phyllis Cohen. This smart flat-roofed clinker brick house of 12 squares was lauded by the Australian House & Garden as a "gem of modern home architecture", carefully planned so that
"looks far bigger and more spacious than many larger houses".  There was also much praise for its setting; not only did the site overlook the adjacent golf course, but it was also pleasingly landscaped with native plantings to a design by Glen Wilson, a young protege of Edna Walling, who regularly worked with the Burrows & McKeown office.  
This fine house, however, also appears to have marked the end of the firm's existence; the fact that it is variously attributed, in different published source, to both Burrows &  McKeown and to G A McKeown & Associates, would suggest that the partnership dissolved sometime between conception and completion, with McKeown taking over the project as sole practitioner.  Under his own name, he went on to design a striking octagonally-planned Roman Catholic at Belmont, near Geelong (1964), before
taking up a position in the Airports Section of the Commonwealth Department of Works – a fitting role for an architect with wartime RAAF experience and a DFC.  Peter Burrows also resumed his sole practice, later achieving some fame as co-designer of an innovative and prototypical Consolidated School at Cohuna (1975), in conjunction with the Public Works Department.

Select List of Projects

Burrows & McKeown



Residence for B Thorn, 54 Bondi Road, Bonbeach
Residence for G A McKeown, 13 Linden Road, Ringwood 
Residence for F G Lawson, 120 Oak Street, Beaumaris [demolished]
Residence for B Mason, 10 Panorama Avenue, Ringwood
Residence for L J Jennings, 72 Oak Street, Beaumaris
St Fidelis RC Primary School, 19 Langtree Avenue, Pascoe Vale South
Residence for K Doyle, 45 Adolphson Street, Ringwood North
Residence for
Miss P Cohen, 14 Fairway Avenue, Cheltenham

G A McKeown & Associates
1964 St Bernard's RC Church, 149-151 High Street, Belmont  [demolished]
Jennings House Beaumaris
Jennings House, Oak Street, Beaumaris (1960)
source: 200 Home Plan Ideas; Reeves Collection)

St Fidelis Primary School Pascoe Vale South
St Fidelis Primary School, Pascoe Vale South (1961)
(photograph by Simon Reeves, Built Heritage Pty Ltd)

Cohen House Cheltenham
Cohen House, Fairway Avenue, Cheltenham (1961-63)
source: Australian House & Garden; Reeves Collection)