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Australian Modernist pioneer Harry Seidler dies - images

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Harry Seidler, the driving force behind the early Modernist movement in Australia, has died today aged 82.

The architect, who designed Sydney's first skyscraper ( Australia Square, pictured below), never fully recovered from a severe stroke which he suffered last April.

A founding member of the Australian Architecture Association and an RIBA Gold Medal Winner, Seidler worked with some of the most talented pioneers of the emerging Modernist movement, including Walter Gropius, before landing in the southern hemisphere.

Born in Vienna in 1923, the Austrian fled to England in 1938 following the Austro-German Anschluss. At first he was held captive by the British authorities before being transported to Canada, where he was released and continued his studies at the University of Manitoba.

He went on to work at Harvard and in New York, before heading down to Brazil where he met Oscar Niemeyer.

Seidler arrived in Sydney in 1948 and began work on his first Australian project - a new house for his parents.

Although Modernism was not new to the Antipodeans, he pushed the movement beyond small domestic projects into the world of the large-scale commercial development.

In August last year there were fears that Seidler would be deported after it was discovered the Austrian did not have legal Australian citizenship.

However, the government, which had revoked the architect's citizenship in the 1980s, decided to reinstate his status.

by Richard Waite

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