in Lynfield (New South Wales) on 7 June 1920, John Colahan "Jack"
Griffin was a nephew of the well-known Australian painter Colin Colahan
(1897-1987), whom, as a youngster, he would regularly accompany on
landscape painting expeditions. Educated at Caulfield Grammar
School, he left in 1936 to take up a position on a naval shipyards
in Williamstown. Not finding it to his liking, he left after
only three days. Taking the advice of a naval architect
who suggested that he might be better suited to a life as a
designer of buildings, Griffin subsequently enrolled in the
architecture course at the Melbourne Technical College.
August 1942, Grififn enlisted with the Australian Army; he served
with the 1st Australian Sound Ranging Battery and the 2/3 Australian
Flash Spotting Battery before being discharged in early 1946 with the
rank of Sergeant. Returning to Melbourne, he initially took a
position with the architectural partnership
of Meldrum & Noad before tranferring to the office of hospital
specialists Leighton Irwin in 1949. The following year, he became
registered as an architect in Victoria. Remaining in Irwin's
employ for a decade, Griffin was involved in a many of the firm's major
hospital projects, including Prince Henry's Hospital in St Kilda Road.
During that time, Griffin also designed an open-planned
modernist house at Brighton for himself and his wife Prudence, whom
he married in 1947. He would remain living there for
virtually all of his life.
In 1960, Griffin left Irwin's
office to establish his own sole practice. During this
period, he was also a member of academic staff in the Faculty of
Architecture at the University of Melbourne, lecturing in Free Drawing.
In 1970, after a decade in private practice, he returned
to Irwin's office (Irwin himself having since died, in 1962) and
remained there until his own retirement in 1982. In the early
2000s, Griffin briefly came out of retirement to undertake a couple of
renovation projects for family members, including work on a block
of flats that he had designed at Brighton, four decades earlier, for
the Mullany family.
Select List of
|Residence for self, 836 Hampton Street, Brighton|
Residence for J Clarke, 8 Leura Grove, Hawthorn
Residence, Tramway Parade, Beaumaris
Flats, The Espalande, Brighton
Residence, Bent Parade, Black Rock
Residence, Haydens Road, Beaumaris
|Exterior of Clarke House in Leura Grove, Hawthorn (1963)|
|Interior of Clarke House in Leura Grove, Hawthorn (1963)|
Sally Griffin, 'Specialist in the Art of Hospital Design', Age, 30 July 2008.