COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA DESIGN FOR THE LAY-OUT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL CITY
Harold Van Buren Magonigle
Typescript in Australian Archives, ACT, Series A762Born in New Jersey, Harold Van Buren Magonigle (1867-1935) began work at thirteen as a student draftsman for Vaux & Radford, a firm headed by Calvert Vaux who--with Frederick Law Olmsted--had won the competition for the design of Central Park in New York City. Two years later Magonigle obtained a position with Charles C. Haight, and in 1887 was hired by the firm of McKim, Mead & White. It was while working there that he was awarded the gold medal of the Architectural League of New York.For the first time since Washington and L'Enfant laid down the lines of the Capital of the United States a city of a similar character is to be built on virgin soil. Like the city of Washington it will lie within a Federal reservation corresponding to the District of Columbia: and the same wise considerations that governed the selection of a site retired from the large centres of population, commerce and manufactures seem to have been observed in the choice of Yass-Canberra. Here, as in Washington, as the seat of the central Government, the life of the citizens will derive its direction from the official life of the town and commerce will be merely an incidental factor. Some of the problems to be envisaged in a sea-port, a great railroad terminus, or a commercial town in a manufacturing district enter only in a highly modified degree in this instance; we have here to deal with a city that must perforce be convenient and pleasant to dwell in, but beautiful above all, expressive in its dignity and monumental aspect of the aspirations of a great Commonwealth. Of all the cities of the world therefore the proposed Federal Capital would in principle most closely resemble that of the United States.
In 1891 he moved to Boston to work for the firm of Rotch & Tilden. In 1894 he received the Rotch fellowship for travel abroad, and for two years he drew and sketched in Europe, returning to rejoin McKim, Mead, and White for a brief time and then to form two, shortlived partnerships just before and immediately after his service in the SpanishAmerican War.
He won the first of what would be many competitions when he and Henry Wilkinson were declared the winners for their designs of an alumni hall for Cornell University (not built) and a courthouse in Brooklyn. In 1903 he began the practice of architecture alone, achieving national renown almost immediately when he won the competition for the design of the McKinley Memorial, located in Canton, Ohio.
This was merely the first of many such memorial competitions he won or was directly commissioned to design. They included one commemorating the battleship Maine and the Firemen's Memorial, both in New York City, the Mason Monument in Detroit, and the Burritt Memorial in New Britain, Connecticut, among others. Magonigle also designed schools, residences, and churches, and one of his important later commissions was his design in 1928 for several buildings in the U.S. diplomatic complex in Tokyo.
His talents as a sculptor and artist were well known, and he wrote extensively on art, architecture, and architectural criticism, with one of his early works being a study of architectural rendering techniques. His marriage to Edith Marion Day, a painter and at one time president of the American Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, led to at least one collaborative effort--the Liberty Memorial for which Mrs. Magonigle designed the frieze summarizing the history of the religions of the world.
Magonigle deserved and received many honors. The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded him its gold medal of honor in 1930. The following year the University of Nebraska granted him an honorary D. Arch. He was honorary president of the Japanese Society of Architects, President of the Alumni Association of the American Academy in Rome, President of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and was elected an Associate of the National Academy and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Except for his entry in the Canberra competition, this distinguished architect does not seem to have been involved with any other city planning projects. Indeed his only documented interest in the field appears to be his membership in 1912 on the American Institute of Architects Committee on Town Planning and his chairmanship of that committee in 1913 under its new name of Committee on Civic Improvements.
In approaching the solution of the problem one cannot do better than to follow in the footsteps of the two great topographers to whom we owe the plan of Washington and endeavor to proceed as they did in establishing its principal lines and vistas and the sites for public Buildings. Upon the margin of L'Enfant's plan he wrote.
1. The positions for the different edifices, and for the several squares or areas of different shapes, as they are laid down, were first determined on the most advantageous ground, commanding the most extensive prospects, and the better susceptible of such improvements, as either use or ornament may hereafter call for"
2. Lines of avenues of direct communication have been devised, to connect the separate and most distant objects with the principal, and to preserve through the whole a reciprocity of sight at the same time. Attention has been paid to the passing of those leading avenues over the most favourable ground for prospect and convenience."
SITE FOR THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
Parliament House, from which the laws of the Commonwealth proceed, is of course the focal point of the city and the selection of a site for it is the natural point of departure; a careful study of the data provided for the guidance of the competitor leads one irresistably to the conclusion that "Camp Hill" is the logical locatio for this building; it is very close to the geographical centre of the terrain and commands a view over more than three-quarters of the area enclosed by the city limits; and yet it is not so high as to make it difficult of access, nor forbid, by abrupt gradients a sufficiently close relation with other public buildings.
ALLOCATION OF AREAS OF OCCUPATION:
This being determined, a further study of the physical conditions is necessary for the allocation of areas most suitable for business, manufactures and the several classes of residents, officials, business men, clerks and operatives, and the consequent determination of sites for a municipal centre, a focus for the social life of the city, and the proper point for a railroad station or stations.
As a preliminary step it is essential to establish the level of the Ornamental Water; and it is quickly perceived that if this is placed at Level 1825 (the line of the flood of 1891) the severance between the northerly and southerly portions of the city is so complete as to be inconvenient and impracticable, besides occupying an undue extent of the available area; and after full consideration Level 1815 is decided upon as giving, without an extensive alteration of the natural banks at this contour level, a body of water adequate for effect and not so wide as to separate the northern and southern sections unduly.
A survey of the remainder of the city site revealed three fairly spacious unwooded and comparatively level areas. One to the north and east of the central axes, one to the south and east and one to the south west; the latter, exposed to the most inclement winds both in winter and in summer cannot be regarded as desirable nor available; for this reason no development of this section is suggested, upon the assumption that it would not be needed for many years to come and would then be used only for the poorer classes of the population as the city grew and increased rental values gradually forced them to this less desirable quarter.
In the city of Washington, the railway station originally stood nearly midway between the Capitol and the White House and the great departmental buildings adjacent to the latter, with the result that the principal business district sprang up about it, entering a wedge between the Legislative section dominated by the Capitol and the residential section around and beyond the Executive centre fixed by the residence of the President. It may be considered as inevitable that a business district will grow up around the railway station of the future city. The principal hotels must not be only near the station but convenient to the business district and within easy reach of the Legislative, Executive and Municipal Centres. It is equally important that the manufacturing interests should have easy access with the shortest possible hauls to and from the railroad and the Government factories must connect directly with it by a spur or spurs.
The indications given by the program of competition as to the prevailing winds in winter and summer point to the extreme easterly portion of the city as the best location for the Governmental and other factories, as well as the railroad yards, to minimize the smoke nuisance in the greatest possible degree. Contiguous to the manufacturing district should be the business district, and the railroad station, good station, depots and the like should lie between them. Near both should be residential quarters for the operatives and clerks, either within easy walking distance or reached by a short ride by the tram.
Near the principal business section should be the Municipal centre with the City Hall as its focus grouped with the Municipal Civil and Criminal Courts, the City Gaol, and other city buildings.
This course of reasoning led to the conclusion that all of the above named elements fall naturally into place in the southeasterly quarter, with the corollary that the principal residential section should be north of the Molonglo. The social life of the city revolves about the residence of the Governor-General and his relation to the Legislative and Administrative branches of the Government, as the representative of the Crown, is such that his seat should bear very much the same relation to the buildings that house them as the White House bears to the Capitol at Washington. His palace and grounds are therefore placed on the northerly side of the river and related to the residential quarter as closely as consistent with privacy.
The physical division of the city effected by the Molonglo River requires a sub-station of the railroad on the north side around which may be expected the growth of a limited area of business devoted to the social service of the neighborhood, conducted chiefly by the smaller and better class of tradesmen.
THE GERM OF THE PLAN:
A fortunate concordance of what we may term the human conditions of the problem and the physical conditions of the site has thus been established and may be expressed in the accompanying diagram (Fig. 1) in which the germ of the plan is seen to be already contained.
This diagram suggests the establishment of a strong axial avenue running northerly and southerly connecting the principal residential section with the Legislative and Administrative group, prolonged southerly to the Municipal centre; and with the Parliament House as the centre a system of radials extending to the two railroad systems, the business region and to the wooded areas so happily placed for park purposes. From the Municipal centre another system of radiating streets and avenues is clearly suggested leading to the residential and business districts, the parks and the railways, besides the axial avenue connecting it with the Parliament Square. On the opposite side of the river a third system links the residential and social centres, the scholastic centre, the parks and the railroad.
The general principles of the plan being thus established we may not turn to its evolution in detail. The first step of importance was to change the line of the railroad from the position tentatively indicated on the survey map so that while equally convenient it would not run through the heart of the city. By working out the gradients on the general contour map of the Federal Reservation it was found possible to enter the city limits further to the east, change its direction through the south-east quarter, cross the Molonglo higher up, carry the line along the flanks of the hill terminating the Mount Ainslee range and after leaving the northerly city boundary swing it northwesterly to the point at which it now crosses the range of hills to the north of the centre.
To adequately terminate the axial avenue running northward from the Houses of Parliament it was determined to group the National Theatre, the National Museum, and the National Library and Art Gallery around a plaza upon which the adjacent street system should converge, these four great institutions ministering to the intellectual needs of the community and being therefore a natural focus. This plaza and group (to be referred to for convenience hereinafter as Vernon Circle) require a practically level site of considerable extent; this is to be found north and east of "Vernon" and the main axis of the plan was drawn through "Camp Hill Station" and tangent with the westerly boundary of the little swamp beyond Vernon Hill. This great avenue will be known herein as "Parliament Mall" south of Molonglo Water and "Vernon Mall" from the bridge to Vernon Circle.
From Parliament Square a northeasterly radial was laid down, the axis of which, prolonged, would strike the summit of Mount Ainslie, so that this mountain would close the vista in that direction. (This will be referred to as Mount Ainslie Road).
A northwesterly radial symmetrical with Mount Ainslie Road opens up a view of the flanks of Black Mountain. (To be called Black Mountain Road).
An easterly radial extends towards the valley of the Molonglo, to be called Valley Road and the corresponding westerly avenue, skirting the Camp Hill Park to connect Parliament Square with the parks and public playgrounds to be established to the west and northwest will be called Park Avenue.
The noble avenue running southerly to "Municipal Square" will be known as Camp Hill Parkway.
The southeasterly street leading from the railroad station to Parliament Square will be known as Parliament Street, and its fellow of less important giving access to the forest southwest of Camp Hill station (which it is proposed to convert into "Camp Hill Park") will be known as Forest Road.
Reciprocal points of view and direct lines of communication are thus established between the Houses of Parliament, and,
N. Vernon Circle and the public buildings there
N.E. Mount Ainslie and the Mount Ainslie Railroad Station.
N.W. Black Mountain,
E. The Valley of the Molonglo,
W. & S.W. The Forest forming Camp Hill Park by means of Forest Road and Park Avenue
S. The City Hall and Municipal Square,
S.E. The Railway Square.
Of these lines of communication the three first named cross the Molonglo by bridges. When drawn on the map the natural curve of the bank along Contour 1815 within the segment enclosed by Black Mountain Road and Ainslie Road suggested at once a formal treatment comparable with the sweep of the Thames Embankment in London and that of the Arno at Pisa, and this treatment was adopted for both banks between these bridges and continued to the east beyond the railway viaduct; wet of Black Mountain Bridge the banks are left in practically their natural state. (See reference in detail under the heading "Parks and Parkways" on page 24) The central bridge (Vernon Bridge) and Mount Ainslie Bridge cross "Molonglo Water" at Level 1850 where proper abutments may be found; Black Mountain Bridge is at the level (1830 at this point) of the quays or parkways bordering Molonglo Water which pass under Vernon and Mount Ainslie Bridges. See "Bridges" page 30).
To consider now the radial system centering in the Municipal Square. The principal avenue running northerly to Parliament Square belongs equally to both. Easterly a wide thoroughfare (Municipal Avenue) runs through the heart of the business region to the Railway Station. Westerly at the same angle a narrower (Hilldale Road) leads over the ridge, bordering Camp Hill Park on the south and would be the principal communication between the southeasterly and southwesterly quarters when the latter is developed. This road would however be developed to provide tramway service to the public playgrounds and pleasure grounds under Black Mountain (see Black Mountain Park under "Parks and Parkways" page 24) and, connect with "Weir Road" at the Dam. Northeasterly an important street (Viaduct Road) runs to the Railway Viaduct, crossing the water at level 1850 (the Railway being at an upper level, (1870) and divides to serve the residential districts on each side of and near the railroad, and bring them into direct communication with the business district and Municipal Square. Corresponding with the angle of Viaduct Road, to the northwest, a narrower avenue (Junction Road) penetrates Camp Hill Park, connects with Forest Road and Park Avenue and serves the residential quarter between the Park and Camp Hill Parkway.
The streets of the residential quarter on the slopes above and to the south of the City Hall which radiate from Municipal Square, not being a part of the system of main arteries now under discussion, will be treated of under "Street System" page 13.
Summarizing the "reciprocity of sight" between the City Hall and other points we have :-
N. - The Houses of Parliament,
N.E. - The Viaduct and the wooded slopes beyond,
N.W. - Camp Hill Park,
E. - The Railway Station,
W.S. - S.E. & S.W. The Residential Section for clerks and tradesmen.
Of the avenues leading to and from the railway station, Parliament Street and Municipal Avenue have already been indicated. One other may be mentioned here, the other thoroughfares passing through Railway Square being a part of the street system; this is the road leading almost due south into the open country. Doubtless this avenue, connecting as it does with the station will be the chief means of approach to the city from the farming districts to the south and country produce will reach its market by this route. The public market is accordingly placed on this street, and it may therefore be conveniently referred to as Market Street.
The third system of radials north of the Molonglo referred to above, may now be described. Leaving out of consideration Vernon Mall, seven main avenues of greater and less importance lead to Vernon Circle. The most important is that from the sub-station of the Railway (Station Road); the next in importance, "Weir Road" is the street running westerly past "Interval Park" along the spurs of Black Mountain to the weir or dam across the Molonglo and, connecting with Hilldale Road; the two form a belt line communication between the two largest residential quarters, the Parks, Vernon Circle, and Municipal Square on the west and with Station Road and Mount Ainslie Road or Viaduct Avenue on the east complete the circuit, in which Railway Square may be included by way of Parliament Street and Municipal Avenue.
Making a similar angle with the main longitudinal axis as Station Road an avenue (Intervale Avenue) runs direct to Intervale Park and connects with the plaza at the northwesterly end of Black Mountain Bridge, where the boulevard on the northerly side of Molonglo Water terminates. The northerly avenue (Theatre Road) the northwesterly (Vernon Street, N.W), the northeasterly (Vernon Street, N.E.), and the easterly (Library Road) receive and distribute the traffic between Vernon Circle and the surrounding residential streets.
The reciprocal views provided for in these main arteries and Vernon Circle are:
From the N. The National Theatre via Theatre Street,
N.W. & N.W. The central monument via Vernon Streets N.E. & N.W.
E. The National Library via Library Street,
W. The National Art Gallery and Museum via Weir Road,
S. The National Theatre via Vernon Mall,
S.E. The National Art Gallery and Museum via Station Road,
S.W. The National Library via Intervale Avenue.
One more important thoroughfare completes the system of main arteries - the north and south street which beginning at the junction of Parliament Street and Viaduct Road, (Post Office Square), forms a shortcut, by way of Mount Ainslie Bridge, between that junction and Mount Ainslie Road and Station, Station Road, Library Road, and the northerly residential district and the University and Technical Schools. Since the Cathedral closes the northerly vista of this street it is convenient to call it Cathedral Avenue.
WIDTHS OF MAIN ARTERIES:
Parliament Hall and Vernon Mall - total width 700 ft.
Camp Hill Parkway 200
Mount Ainslie Road 150
Black Mountain Road 150
Valley Road 150
Park Avenue to Rond Point 150
Parliament Street 180
Municipal Avenue 150
Hilldale Road 110
Viaduct Road 150
Junction Road 110
Market Street 100
Station Road 150
Intervale Avenue 100
Theatre Road 120
Vernon Street N.E. and Vernon Street N.W. 100
Library Road 100
Weir Road to Intervale Park 100
Cathedral Avenue 150
These widths are based upon the probable volume of traffic, the length of the several avenues or their importance as approaches to principal points, all of these elements entering into the calculations. (For their proposed subdivisions in width and the disposition of foot, vehicular and tram traffic see diagrams submitted with the general plans).
The main avenues of most modern cities are adequately lighted and ventilated and provide ample space for the circulation of traffic. Not so the less important thoroughfares; either they are too narrow or they do not run in the proper direction, or both.
To dispose first of the question of width; in the business and manufacturing districts they are generally 90 feet wide, in the residential districts 80 feet generally, with some few short cross streets south of Municipal Square 60 feet wide. Even in the business and manufacturing districts the streets should be lined with trees, to give protection to pedestrians and to shade waiting horses, but set far enough away from the buildings to ensure light and air. Ninety feet is not therefore excessive. All over England and especially in London new streets are being laid out of far greater width than the old thoroughfares; and in these days of motor traffic a wide road bed is imperative. Moreover the greater width ensures better lighted buildings on both sides. (See diagrams with general plans). The lesser width accorded the residential streets is predicted on the probability of the buildings being much lower and in many cases set back from the street in their own grounds or door yards; even where residences may be built in rows to the building line this width should prove sufficient.
In practice the position of the trees should be such that either sidewalk or road bed or both may be widened as occasion arises and the street so arranged that only a strip of paved road bed of moderate width but adequate for present requirements need be laid and maintained; the same applied to sidewalks, the balance being thrown for the present either into gravel or parking.
The orientation of a street system is of prime importance. Studies upon this subject have resulted in a consensus of opinion by the best authorities that streets running north and south and east and west are badly lighted, hot in summer and cold in winter and are to be avoided wherever possible.
It will be observed that with few exceptions all the streets in the plan being described run approximately northeast and southwest or northwest and southeast. This arrangement adapts itself to the natural grades of the city site; but the plan of the street system cannot be properly understood unless this matter of their orientation is borne constantly in mind; the idea runs through the whole plan and the adjustment of natural grades and orientation each to each and the preservation of convenience of passage at the same time involved the severest study of any element of the problem. Working from this point of view there has resulted a variety in the street system that would make this city beautiful and interesting if executed according to this plan. Changes in length give a different proportion to streets of the same width; the vistas of some are closed by buildings at one end and parkways at the other; some are curved, in others the direction of the street changes; and the monotony of interminably long minor streets laid out on a rigid rectangular system has been deliberately and sedulously avoided.
RELATION OF THE GRIDIRON TO THE MAIN THOROUGHFARES.
Referring again to the plan of the city of Washington, it is undeniable that the "gridiron" of minor streets is not well adjusted to the radial system. At the intersections there are many ragged spots that deform what would otherwise be noble avenues, and tend to render nugatory the evident monumental intent.
With this in mind the author has not merely superimposed a gridiron upon the radial streets but has adjusted the two to each other so as to produce wherever possible right angled intersections and where this was impossible, to bring the angular intersections up to the avenue line in such a manner as to break the continuity as little as possible. This is particularly the case along Cathedral Avenue, which cuts through the gridiron at an angle unusually difficult to handle.
ARRANGEMENT OF THE GRIDIRON SOUTH OF THE MOLONGLO
The following avenues south of Molonglo Water cut through the gridiron at an angle; Cathedral Avenue Camp Hill Parkway - Municipal Avenue - Hilldale Road and we may now discuss the whole arrangement of the gridiron in the southeasterly quarter. Viaduct Road and Parliament Street were made to cross each other at right angles and the whole segment of minor streets between Municipal Avenue and Camp Hill Parkway were run parallel with these avenues, giving perfectly rectangular intersections. North of Valley Road the direction of one street is slightly changed for the better adjustment of the size of the blocks near the Departmental Buildings; the same applies to the corresponding section between Black Mountain Road and Park Avenue. At Camp Hill Parkway the intersections of the cross streets were spaced regularly along this thoroughfare and an interesting and unusual treatment given them with small parkings breaking back from the Parkway in such a manner that the truncated angles of the inside blocks have an actual frontage on this avenue, and from almost any point near the intersection of the cross streets a double vista is secured; the traffic entering the avenue is easily distributed and diverted.
Along Municipal Avenue, this being destined for a strictly business thoroughfare, while the principle of the intersection is the same, the parks are omitted and the short spurs of street which receive the pairs of gridiron streets are widened. Traffic crossing the avenue is made to do so at a right angle and the confusion and congestion inevitable where traffic crosses at a lesser angle is avoided and the number of collision points reduced to a minimum. Moreover a driver, leaving Municipal Avenue may reach points widely separated from one intersection. The arrangement is also safer for pedestrians traversing the length of the Avenue, since the wide spaces of an angular intersection crowded with traffic are avoided.
At Hilldale Road the same considerations do not apply, this being an artery through a residential quarter; but the intersections are carefully adjusted so as to give interest and variety.
The gridiron south of Municipal Square running west along the line of Hilldale Road and easterly, is curved to adjust itself to the contours as closely as practicable. East and west of Market Street between the radial from Railway Square and the marginal street along the railroad are a limited number of blocks running practically north and south and east and west, so arranged partly because they run more nearly with the contours, partly to afford an easy transition between streets of the manufacturing district east of the railway, and partly to provide ample communication, by the north and south streets, between this district and Railway Square and the Goods station by way of the radial and marginal streets above referred to.
SIZE OF BLOCKS IN SOUTHEASTERLY QUARTER
The scheme of intersections and relations between the avenues and minor streets has also produced in a perfectly natural way, a variation in the sizes of blocks, so that business may be readily accommodated accordingly to nature. No block is made so long as to interfere with easy passage on foot, and 500 feet is adopted as the approximate maximum. In the manufacturing district a more regular subdivision is made, somewhat larger in scale, to accommodate the large areas needed for industrial establishments. We may here anticipate the description of the railroad to dispose at this point of the provision made for handling freight between the business and industrial districts and the railroad. The railway being elevated for reasons to be given hereinafter, the whole space under the assembling yards is given over to the reception, despatch and handling of goods. Lifts connecting with the goods platforms above are distributed at convenient intervals and grade crossings abolished. This is the principle adopted in the new great railway stations in the United States, whether the good tracks are above or below the street level.
In the residential district on the rising ground south of Hilldale Road, the greater proportion of the blocks is arranged for detached residences grouped around a park to be used in common for recreation and as playgrounds for children where they would be under surveillance and safe from the accidents that result from playing in the streets. This district, planted freely with trees, would effect an attractive transition between the open country and the regular, rectilinear streets of the city; it interpenetrates the ordinary street system so that from the north these slopes covered with foliage would form a frame and background for Municipal Square.
ARRANGEMENT OF THE GRIDIRON NORTH OF THE MOLONGLO.
North of the Molonglo, the contours of the valley between Intervale Park and the spurs of the Mount Ainslie Range from a shallow basin roughly ovoidal in form. To this physical characteristic the arrangement of the street system here is due; it will be observed to resemble a spider's web, the street lines following the contours of the ground around Vernon Circle joined to radials that conduct to and from this centre. Here also the principle of northeast and south west or northwest directions has been observed practically throughout; the exceptions are almost negligible and lie on the extreme outskirts of the city. Wherever possible the intersections with radial avenues are made rectangular; such angles are best suited for building purposes, especially where the structures are erected on the building line; but a sufficient number of other angles occur to provide those picturesque compositions lacking which a city loses a strong element of charm. This district may be expected to grow northerly beyond the city limits to a certain extent, although the lack of benefits in the matters of sewerage and water supply, gas, police protection and the like would tend to restrict this growth. Easterly and westerly on the slopes of Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain, sites for detached villas standing in their own grounds are available and this may be expected to produce an extension of the residential area by an irregular system of roads adapted to the contours of the site.
On the southerly spur of the Mount Ainslie range, near the Governmental Reservation (with which it is connected by a small suspension bridge for foot passengers only) and close to the industrial section is an area admirably suited for a settlement of artisans where they may live cheaply in sightly, sanitary quarters, on rising ground well above the river, facing southerly, and commanding a view toward the city, and the great group of buildings dominated by the Houses of Parliament; one, two and three family houses are arranged picturesquely along winding roads that climb the slopes at easy grades, with schools and playgrounds churches and chapels and public meeting places. Above are the slopes of the hills where they may escape from city life completely.
PRINCIPAL PUBLIC SQUARES:
Of the principal public squares it will suffice to describe briefly those features that may not be immediately apprehended.
As to Vernon Circle it may be said that it partakes almost equally of the character of a Park, surrounded by ranges of trees and shrubs, with the centre laid out in a sunken garden which would enhance the effectiveness and dignity of the three principal buildings by giving them the effect of being built on rising ground. Upon examination it will be seen that a formal and regular architectural treatment of the buildings beyond the parking and the public structures is suggested. These should be built under rigorous restrictions as to height of cornice and vertical and lateral subdivisions so that a quiet and dignified frame may be assured for a superb picture.
Municipal Square on the other hand is an "Architectural Place", open toward the north, but the entire southerly portion enclosed by buildings, connected above the level of the streets, which pierce to the square through arcades. This is a thoroughly practical arrangement for the elements of a municipal group. In the centre, convenient of access to the other buildings, its tower on the axes of the principal avenues entering the square, is the City Hall, and a different point of view of the whole composition of an individual character is to be had from any of the convergent streets.
Of Railway Square it is sufficient to say that ample space is provided for the circulation of traffic and measures are taken for its proper distribution. Cab ranks would be established around the central parking and the monumental fountain that accents the vista of Parliament Street in this direction. Rows of trees would soften and frame the place. the main level of the station is at the level of the tracks and ramps and elevators would make access easy and comfortable; and the effect of this plaza with the two great avenues and minor streets converging upon it, as seen by a visitor upon arrival at the higher level would undoubtedly be unsurpassed in any city of the world.
Parliament Square will be treated of connection with "Public Buildings" page 31.
A system of service streets or alleys is proposed, by means of which deliveries of goods may be made to business houses and residences alike, and ashes, garbage and refuse to be removed. These alleys would be twenty feet wide, sufficient for moving and standing carts. No city should be planned without this provision it is absurd in the highest degree to have ash- and garbage-carts standing on decent streets, with the inevitable litter and dust that accompany the process of removal of this refuse. Nor need tradesmen's wagons be in view at any time except when crossing a street. All of this service should be performed out of sight of the streets which should be made as pleasant as possible in every particular.
TREATMENT OF THE RAILWAY
In many of the cities of the world, the street bordering on the railway are unsightly; too frequently the view accorded the passenger is of untidy backs, and the character of the buildings along the line almost always of an ignoble order. The reasons are not far to seek; the right of way is usually so narrow that the property adjacent to it is of little value on account of the noise and smoke and only the poorest and cheapest class of structures, tenements, factories and the like, may be built upon it. In a capital city or a new city at least there need be no excuse for this. The railway is the principal approach to the town and from the moment a passenger enters the city limits, there should be nothing to offend the eye. Grade crossings are so dangerous as to be completely out of the question in a modern city; to eliminate them one of two things must be done; the railway must either be depressed or elevated. To depress the right-of-way is depressing to the passenger who sees nothing whatever of the town on approaching or leaving the station or in passing through except the walls of the cutting.
To solve all of the questions cited, in this plan the railway is elevated within the city limits, and runs through a parkway 300 feet wide. The tracks are therefore, (counting the width of the marginal streets in this distance) 210 feet from the building line of the marginal streets. It is believed that this is sufficiently distant to ensure the erection of sightly structures facing on this parkway.
At each street handsome arches of steel or concrete or a combination of the two, similar to the metropolitan railroad in Berlin or Paris, would lend interest to the perspective of the thoroughfare. The level of the tracks at Railway Square is approximately at level 1870, that of the Square and the neighboring streets about level 1850. This difference of twenty feet is maintained elsewhere and is ample to provide for the depth of construction required for wide spans over the streets and leave a clear height for the passage of drays piled high with merchandise.
The elevated assembling yards and the provisions for handling goods were described on page 18. From these yards a spur descends at an easy grade to the level of the Government Manufactories while another, elevated spur runs to the Gas-works and Central Power Station, so that coal may be delivered to the bunkers at the height proper for modern plants.
The railway crosses Molonglo Water on a viaduct of two levels; (described under "Bridges" page 30) on the northerly side of the Water the elevated structure rises gradually again from Level 1870 unit at Mount Ainslie station the tracks are at Level 1895.
It will be observed that a magnificent view of the Houses of Parliament is to be had as the line curves to the Viaduct; from the viaduct Molonglo Water and the sweep of the embankments; and on leaving the northerly bank the railway curves back again commanding a series of other beautiful views. While from the city, save for occasional glimpses of a passing train the observer would be conscious only of the belt of green foliage marking the line.
The cost of construction per mile for the four miles or so of road within the city limits would of course be greater than for a line constructed in the usual manner by cut and fill. But no consideration of mere cost should be weighed against the manifest advantages of the scheme here proposed. Instead of being an eyesore, the railway would contribute to the beauty of the city.
PARKS AND PARKWAYS:
The wooded areas shown on the survey map are clearly indicative of the purpose to which they should be devoted - parks for the embellishment of the city breathing places for its citizens.
Four such areas appear; the principal one running from Red Hill to Camp Hill Station, the next largest directly north on the other side of the Molonglo the others on Black Mountain and the spurs of the Mount Ainslie Range. The two latter we may briefly dispose of as suitable for wild wood parks to be left, save for the construction of good roads and safe paths, in a natural state, where the people may wander at will and enjoy the natural beauty of the hills. To the artisans and operatives on the Mount Ainslie spurs such a natural park would be an unspeakable boon. Black Mountain Park is not so immediately accessible but may be easily reached by the tram line on Hilldale and Weir Roads.
The other two, called for convenience of reference Camp Hill Park and Intervale Park, should receive another treatment, where art may be called upon to aid and embellish nature, and where order should reign. These parks should be principally for the enjoyment of the better classes of the population who would take their pleasure in strolling and driving rather than in picnic parties and similar amusements.
CAMP HILL PARK
It will be observed that for Camp Hill Park the total area shown as "open forest" on the survey map is not utilized. South of Hilldale Road between that street and the upper slopes of Red Hill it is cut up into a residential section where, however, the growth should be preserved as much as possible. Here each householder would have his own little plot of ground, and live in a detached house shaded by such trees as could be retained. (In the absence of data as to the definite location of individual trees, the street lines have been cut through with regard to convenience only; but the disposition of the stand of timber should control in some degree the ultimate arrangement of the streets and buildings). South of these streets the forest would be untouched; so that residents would have the choice of a finished park like Camp Hill on the one side or a climb through the natural scenery of Red Hill and on the other.
The great pleasure grounds of France and Italy show us what may be done by combining a formal and a natural treatment. Parks should minister to all tastes and where one would delight in the roads that wind through the woods, another would prefer the stately allees cut straight through the forest where the roadway is bordered on either land by a broad band of turf and where the present growth would be filled out to form unbroken avenues; these avenues have been referred to as Forest Road and Junction Road and at the intersections should be placed low fountains to accent the vistas and give them interest. Where Forest Road joins Hilldale Road a restaurant or Tea House is suggested. And at the point where Junction Road and Park avenue meet a lookout is planned from whence, down a falling vista out through the woods, a beautiful view of Black Mountain would be disclosed with Molonglo Water as a foreground.
The grounds of the Prime Minister, bordered by Park Avenue, Junction and Forest Roads, are taken out of this area, to be referred to under "Public Buildings".
The wooded ridge on the other side of Molonglo River lends itself equally well to park treatment and would be the natural resort of the residents of the northeasterly quarter. The contours do not lend themselves so well to straight allees nor is there the same warrant for them as in Camp Hill Park; here therefore winding drives, equestrian roads and paths are alone suggested except for the straight prolongation of the line of Intervale Avenue by a road leading to a restaurant and rest house overlooking the public playgrounds, "Little Venice" and Molonglo Water.
On the flat ground west of Intervale Park a very considerable areas should be devoted to sports, cricket, football, tennis and the like which require a large extent of level land.
To the west of these playgrounds under Black Mountain, and as easily reached as they would be from any part of the city by tram, an amusement park is proposed of which the name "Little Venice" is most descriptive, since advantage is taken of the low land and a natural inlet on Contour 1815 to form lagoons and canals along which buildings would be grouped, containing shows and exhibitions of every sort, similar in some degree to Rarl's Court London. The Zoological Gardens might well be placed here, and an electric fountain would be an added attraction at night. Ample provision for a tramway terminal shelter is made at the gates of the park. This park should be under municipal control, maintained free of charge if possible by the sale or rental of concessions.
Camp Hill Parkway has already been sufficiently described in the discussion of the arterial system.
One of the most beautiful features of the city would be the river drives along the Molonglo Embankments. These so are arranged that abroad foot-way follows the line of the parapets; next a broad double driveway lighted like the Champs Elysees, through the centre with refuges at each standard for pedestrians; and between a double row of trees (under which would be another foot-way) and the parking, an equestrian road.
These roads from Vernon Bridge on the south around to that bridge on the north are at Level 1825 passing under this, Mount Ainslie Bridge and the Viaduct Westerly on both banks they rise to Level 1830 at Black Mountain Bridge which crosses at this level and connects the extremities of these boulevards and Intervale and Camp Hill Parks. By this arrangement a drive, ride or walk may be enjoyed, in the heart of the city, uninterrupted by city traffic. Provision is made for ramps to the level of Parliament Mall and Vernon Mall. Few cities of the world possess an opportunity for a treatment such as this in their midst; it recalls, as previously mentioned, the Thames River Embankment in London and the sweep of the Arno at Piza.
This has already been touched upon under "Treatment of the Railway" page 22; but it will be noted that the marginal streets along the Railroad Parkway connect with the Embankment Roads and link up the parkway system.
SMALL PARKS AND PARKED STREETS:
In Paris, the great boulevards, lined with trees, take to a great extent the place of small parks of which there are, accordingly, few. There have nevertheless been provided in the residential district north of Molonglo Water a number of small parks that would be safe places for the children of the neighborhood. But every arterial street is parked and planted freely and taken together form in reality a great parkway system piercing the town in every direction, and bringing even into the heart of the business centres the refreshing influence of green foliage.
MOLONGLO WATER AND THE BRIDGES:
Reference was made at the outset to the level adopted for the water line of Molonglo Water, and the treatment of the different portions of the flooded areas has been described. It is necessary however to indicate the reasons for certain features that might not be apparent.
First in importance may be mentioned the change in the line of the Molonglo River east of the Viaduct and the reclamation of its bed, making possible a convenient and practicable level site for the Barracks. Parade Ground and Governmental Factories. Jerrabomberza Creek also has been canalized, and by the construction of a narrow canal connecting the two on the easterly verge of the city, the Government Reservation becomes an island easily guarded and naturally protected. It is evident that the cause of the present violent deflection of the river's course is the rocky spur at the end of the Mount Ainslie range; and by merely blasting this away the stream may be ed directly to the head of Molonglo Water and made to flow between stone walls that will protect the banks.
Second may be noted the private waters for the University and for the Governor General; it seemed best to construct dikes across the low lying areas which these occupy to continue the Embankment Roads so that this portion of Molonglo Water would present the formal monumental and dignified aspect essential to this most formal portion of a great city; and rather than to fill these areas in it is proposed to provide for the University a pool for boating, and for the Governor General private waters as a decorative adjunct of his park, each connected with the main body by two narrow canals to induce a current and prevent stagnation.
Of Black Mountain Bridge, Vernon Bridge and Mount Ainslie Bridge, it is enough to say that they should be handsome structures of steel and stone, that they carry different kinds of traffic and are proportioned thereto and to their relative importance. Black Mountain Bridge is for pleasure traffic only. Vernon Bridge is the monumental connecting link between the most monumental portions of the city and would carry no business traffic. Mount Ainslie Bridge however receives foot, vehicular and tram traffic in great volume.
The Viaduct takes all three, in addition to the Railway. This is accomplished by taking the Railway over at an upper level (1870); under the railway superstructure would run the trams; outside of the superstructure on each side is a roadway for north- or south-bound vehicles, and next to the parapets run the foot-ways. This viaduct should be well designed and form a monumental screen between the better portion of the town and the manufacturing district.
Weir Bridge, or that over the dam at the foot of the Molonglo Water, is carried over on arches through which the water flows over the weir. The volume of traffic would be comparatively small, but foot passage, a roadway and a tramway are provided for.
The City Hall, the Municipal Courts and the like have been treated of under "Public Squares" page XXX the railway station has also been touched upon; of the public markets it should be noted that an open air market is provided for as well as covered structures for different kinds of produce. Sites for the General Post Office, the Mint and the Printing Office are suggested at the junction of Parliament Street, Viaduct Road and Cathedral Avenue, a central point reached from many directions.
The reasons governing the selection of Camp Hill near the centre of the city as the site of the Houses of Parliament have been stated. Along Black Mountain and Ainslie Roads are distributed the Departmental Buildings, the State House and the Supreme Court Building, the whole forming a magnificent group facing on a park through which runs Parliament Mall treated with cascades and fountains. There would be no such group in the world as this; it yields nothing to the proposed treatment of the Mall in Washington. (It may be observed in passing that the tramway lines run behind all these buildings for the convenience of officials and employees and are kept out of the Park, Mall and Square.)
A site was selected for the Prime Minister's Residence near the Houses of Parliament, the Departmental Buildings and that restricted residential section immediately to the west of Black Mountain Road, a commanding a splendid view of Black Mountain and Molonglo Water.
It is of the utmost importance to preserve a beautiful view from the Houses of Parliament and Parliament Square and continue the park-like aspect on the opposite side of the river. The grounds of the Governor General, of the University, the Technical Schools, and the cemetery around the old church perform this function. It was this consideration, its proximity to the chief residential section and the river which indeed determined the location of the University at this point. The site for the residence of the Governor General seemed pre-destined. The Technical Schools fell naturally into place between the better residential district and the artisan's village, convenient of access from any point by tram. It seemed unnecessary to provide more than one Stadium, and since a modern University should possess this feature, and since a modern University should possess this feature, it is placed where it can be used by town and gown, on Cathedral Street and the belt tram line. It may also serve for the students of the Technical School opposite.
Although the program does not call for a Cathedral it may be supposed that this city would become an Episcopal See. A site has therefore been selected at the head of Cathedral Street, on Station Road, in the residential district where it may face east and west, be easily reached, and rising above the buildings of the University, accent the noble view from Parliament Square.
The National Theatre, Art Gallery and Library and Museum have been indicated in Vernon Circle.
The Government Barracks for infantry, cavalry and artillery with a parade ground occupy the point of land formed by the junction of the Molonglo River and Jerrabomberra Canal. Easterly are the Governmental factories arranged for several classes of manufactures. And on the easterly limits of the town are placed the gas-works and power station where these usually unsightly structures will be least objectionable; although attention is drawn to the treatment given the gas containers by the city of Vienna.
STORM WATER SYSTEM.
Two main sewers are provided for the disposal of storm water, one on either side of Molonglo Water starting at the easterly end and discharging at the westerly and in Molonglo River below the weir.
As the city consists of a series of plateaus, it is divided into zones, each of which has its trunk line discharging into the nearer main sewer.
The trunk lines have been laid out to conform as closely as possible to the topography of the surface thereby requiring a minimum of excavation and being located at the most satisfactory depth for tributary branches.
The scheme requires that the sewers be designed from the start with a capacity sufficient for estimated future requirements, as the future growth of the city will be in the districts farthest from the main sewers.
The water course which drains the valley between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain is preserved. The storm water from the section to the north is discharged into an ornamental receiving basin which in turn discharges into the water course. The water course from Red Hill is also preserved.
The motive power should be electric, and no consideration of expediency should be allowed to prevail in deciding between overhead and underground trolleys. They should be underground at all cost. Not only are overhead wires unsightly in the extreme but they are dangerous for many reasons, and in case of fire interfere with the work of the firemen. No city of any pretensions to civic pride should permit its streets to be defaced by poles and wires.
Nor should the constant tearing up of streets to repair water mains, gas mains, or electric conduits be permitted. The annual cost of such work, with the accompanying charges for relaying pavements, the loss of time and money by the inconvenience to traffic, if capitalized would pay for a complete system of pipe tunnels in which sewers, storm water sewers, water and gas mains and electric conduits will be accessible at all times: and this is strongly urged.
It is conceived that this is a competition for a plan for the city, not for the design of its public buildings; that a general scheme is desired to be carried out by degrees. From this point of view, four sheets only are submitted.
1. An outline plan drawn as required on the duplicate contour survey map provided, so that it may be seen at a glance how closely the plan follows the contours of the site.
2. A plan in Water Color expressing the scheme as the other cannot.
3. A birds-eye view indicating suggestively the possible aspect of the city.
4. Sections taken through the principal axis and along the main thoroughfares at the same scale as the plans, for readier comparison and an easier grasp of the relations of points; and cross sections through the streets at a larger scale to indicate the subdivisions for traffic, provisions for pipe tunnels, sewage, gas, water and electricity.
Selected, transcribed, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org To Top of Page To Homepage