Architect Bill Toomath: Liberating Everyday Life

February 1, 2010

An exhibition celebrating the 60 year career of modernist architect, Bill Toomath, at Wellington’s City Gallery.

Bill Toomath’s architectural thinking has left its signature on Wellington, New Zealand, while as educator and mentor he continues to influence many young architects and students. City Gallery Wellington is celebrating his 60 year career with the exhibition _Architect Bill Toomath: Liberating Everyday Life_.

This exhibition pivots on Toomath’s very personal take on key modernist ideas – primarily open planning. Audiences are encouraged to re-visit modernism for its relevance to our built environment now. Modernism is often associated with a distinct moral code, as its principles were frequently combined with the social and political conviction that architecture can, and should, transform society for the better.

The exhibition focuses on three major projects. These are the 1949 design for a National Art Gallery on the waterfront (Bill’s thesis project), Toomath Senior House (1950), and the St Jerome’s study project (2007). The floorplan of the exhibition draws from Bill’s design for his parent’s house – coincidentally the dimensions of the Hirschfeld Gallery match very closely to that design. Temporary walls in the space will align with the original Toomath House floorplan, while the windows of the building will be subtly marked on the walls with tape.

Toomath studied architecture at Auckland University from 1945-49, and was a founding member of the Architectural Group 1946. He spent a year motorcycling around Europe before a Fulbright Graduate Award in 1952 enabled him to complete a Masters in Architecture at Harvard, where he was taught by I.M. Pei. He briefly worked with Walter Gropius at the Architects’ Collaborative and then with I. M. Pei before returning to New Zealand in 1954 to set up his own practice.

*Where* Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square, Wellington
*When* 29 January-14 March 2010
*Admission* $10/$8. Free entry after 7 February

*Image* Toomath Senior House (1949), Lower Hutt, driveway approach. Image by Ron Redfern, courtesy Gordon H Burt Ltd.

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