Established in 1957, the Melbourne architectural practice of Burrows & McKeown may have existed for only a few short years, yet it still produced some high quality work that attracted attention in the architectural and popular press.
Born in Ballarat on 6 November 1921, Peter Barrington Burrows had already been in sole practice for some years, with a city office in Collins Street, when he entered into partnership with the slightly younger Gerald Alexander McKeown. Born in in the Mallee township of Nhill on 7 July 1924, 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.
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Burrows & McKeown
G A McKeown & Associates