Neville Duff

Born 16 February 1936. Attended Camberwell High School 1948-1952

Neville Duff, architect, came to Camberwell High from Auburn South State School. He was very active in school life at Camberwell. He was House Captain of MacArthur in 1951 and a Prefect in 1952. A member of the 1st XVIII Football team, and the 1st XI Cricket team, in both 1951 and 1952 (Vice Captain), it is little wonder that his final report said of Neville: ‘has given good service to the school in sport and as a prefect’.

For three years after he left Camberwell High Neville undertook an apprenticeship in fibrous plastering with Picton Hopkins & Son Pty Ltd. In 1958 he worked as Senior Draughtsman on a variety of domestic, institutional and commercial projects with the architects, Yuncken Freeman Pty Ltd. In his final year with Yuncken Freeman, 1964, he completed his Diploma of Architecture at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, after a number of years of part-time study. In 1965 Neville passed the Design Examination for the Architects Registration Board of Victoria. He then spent two years with J. J. Walker & Associates Pty Ltd where he worked on the design, documentation and supervision of industrial buildings.

Between 1966 and 1973 Neville was employed by the Staff Architects Department at the University of Melbourne. He was involved in a number of interesting building projects at Melbourne, including the design and supervision of works on and associated with the campus, for example, the student residences at the University’s Agriculture Field Station at Mt Derrimut and at the Veterinary School at Werribee. As well as serving on Melbourne’s Building and Grounds Committee, Neville was seconded to the master planners, Anchor, Mortlock Murray and Woolley, to assist in the preparation of a Master Plan for the University, in which particular attention was to be given to materials and elements in the landscape.

In 1973 Neville returned to Yuncken and Freeman, where remained until 1980. His next design work included a number of educational buildings, during the decade in which tertiary education expanded in Australia. These projects included: the design and planning of all academic buildings at the Australian Defence Forces Academy, Duntroon; the design of teacher education buildings at the Warrnambool Institute of Technology, including responsibility for the Master Plan and coordination of engineering works, services reticulation and landscaping; the design of the Arts, General Purpose and Gymnasium Buildings at the State College of Victoria, Toorak, as well as the coordination of landscaping and the design of student residences and the Art and Design Buildings at the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education. Neville was also the chief designer for the conversion of the homestead, ‘Banyule’, into an art gallery for the National Gallery of Victoria.

Three of his years with Yuncken Freeman were spent in Hong Kong (1978-80) on development projects, which included railway stations, open-air theatres, 25-storey flats and the conversion of the old Victoria Barracks into a public recreation area for the people of Hong Kong. From 1980-2 Neville was with Jackson Teece Chesterman Willis & partners Pty Ltd where he was engaged in a series of major projects in Sydney, including responsibility as Design Coordinator for the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Ultimo, otherwise known as the Powerhouse Museum, a project valued at $30 million, and completed in 1981.

Following a brief stint with Health Building Consultants Pty Ltd, in 1983 Neville joined the prestigious firm of architects and planners, Buchan, Laird & Bawden Pty Ltd. He was made an Associate Director of the firm in 1985 and, in 1989, became a Director of Drinnan, Buchan, Laird & Bawden, his present position. Neville’s projects here have included major landscaping and building works at Geelong Grammar School, the Geelong and St John of God Hospitals, Shell Australia, the Head Office of the Farrow Corporation, Geelong, and at a number of Melbourne’s regional shopping complexes, including the Chadstone Shopping Centre.

With such a distinguished career in architecture and planning, Neville can truly be said to have fulfilled his schoolboy ambition: ‘To be an architect’ and to have avoided his probable fate: ‘Digging post holes’ (Prospice, 1952, p.25). Apart from his professional activities, Neville retains his interests in sport, in particular cricket, tennis and golf. He also enjoys gardening.