Architect Personal DetailsArchitectural works in South Australia
Firms or Professional PartnershipsBibliographic Sources

Architect Personal Details



First name

Albert Charles








Albert Charles Harris was probably born in Bucks, England around 1887. He was educated at Sir William Borlase’s School at Marlow, Bucks, England before being articled to architect Mr Richard Wellicome in Marlow, Bucks in 1903. Albert Harris remained an articled pupil until 1907 when he gained employment as a draughtsman with Messrs. Hoare and Wheeler Architects at 22 Portman St, Portman Square, in London. He continued in this position until 1913, making the most of the educational opportunities it brought. Harris recalled that ‘During my time in London I attended regularly the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic, Regent St, London with sketching class at the South Kensington Science & Art Museum and attained Certificates for Building Construction, Freehand & Model Drawing in addition attained a Diploma as a Professional Associate of the Surveyors Association (Building Section).’ (SAIA Roll Book 1924). Emigrating to Australia in 1913, Albert Harris arrived in Adelaide and was engaged as a draughtsman with Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne Smith in December 1913. He remained with the practice until January 1921, when he left to work as a draughtsman for Eric McMichael.

On his application for Associateship of the South Australian Institute of Architects in July 1924, Harris declared that he had ‘almost completed a course in Concrete Engineering with the International Correspondence School’ (SAIA Roll Book 1924). At this time his address was given as Avondale Street, Clarence Park. In 1939, when Albert Harris applied to be made a Fellow of the South Australian Institute of Architects he gave the address of his architectural partnership, E.H. McMichael and Harris, Brookman Buildings, 35 Grenfell Street, Adelaide (SAIA 1939). Later they moved to 97-105 King William Street, Adelaide into the Savings Bank of South Australia building they designed. Albert Harris was the twenty-third architect to be registered in South Australia under that Architects Act of 1939 (Lustri and Collins 2010: 51) and maintained this registration until 1968 (SA Government Gazettes).

After working for McMichael since 1921, Albert Harris joined Eric McMichael in partnership as E.H. McMichael and Harris on 1 July 1927 (‘Notice of Partnership’, 1927: 2). Jack Cheesman, a contemporary of Harris recalled that ‘in 1927, when McMichael was in partnership with Albert Harris, there were seven draftsmen and a specification writer in their office. McMichael & Harris and Woods, Bagot, Jory & Laybourne Smith were then the two largest and busiest architectural practices in the state.’(Page 1986: 150-1).

During the 1920s, when Harris was employed by McMichael as a draughtsman (1921-1927) the practice completed several important buildings, including the Kelvin Building (1925), North Terrace, Adelaide, which provided offices for Adelaide Electric Supply Company Limited. Following the formation of their partnership, an office block of five storeys sited on Victoria Square, Adelaide was designed for the Independent Order of Rechabites (1928) by E.H. Mc Michael and Harris. ‘Externally the front will be finished in cream terracotta, with modern shop fronts and a cantilever awning’ (‘Rechabite Headquarters’ 1928: 5). The builders were Fricker Brothers. (‘Rechabite Building’ 1928: 1). Shell House, was another major commission for the practice and was designed in commercial palazzo style and built in 1931-1932 as offices for the Shell Company of Australia. Its location on North Terrace, Adelaide, just west of the Eric McMichael designed Verco Building helped define the commercial district of the city.

In 1929 work started on the E.H. McMichael and Harris designed retail building for Harris, Scarfe Limited which was bounded by Grenfell Street, Francis Street and Rundle Street, Adelaide. It was constructed of reinforced concrete with a basement and five storeys. E.H. McMichael and Harris consulted with fellow architects F.Kenneth Milne and Gordon Laybourne Smith on the design, and the builders were again Fricker Brothers (‘New Harris, Scarfe Building’ 1929: 1). The former premises of Harris, Scarfe Limited on Gawler Place were bought by Laubman and Pank and in 1933 they engaged E.H. McMichael and Harris to remodel the building in what would now be called Art Deco style. A description from 1933 captures the design of the building: ‘The present front of the building will be demolished and an entirely new elevation in modernistic style substituted. The work will be carried out in brick and white cement stucco, with large steel-framed windows, and colored tiles underneath the window sills. Two vertical colored neon signs, on both sides of the front elevation, extending from the first floor to the top of the building, will add to its attractiveness at night’ (‘80p.c. increase in building’ 1933:18). Further commercial premises for shops and department stores along Rundle Street, Adelaide included those for the Myer Emporium (1936) and Charles Birks (1930).

Hospitals were also designed by E.H. McMichael and Harris in country locations and included the Balaklava Obstetric Wing (1947) and Wudinna Hospital (1927). Residences designed by the practice included a large Spanish Mission style home for Mr Sidney Wilcox at 187 Brougham Place, North Adelaide (1929). The two storied residence had seven bedrooms, an elevator, a garage for two motor cars, a tennis court and six telephones and was described as an ‘Ideal home for Sunny South Australia’. Its exterior was white stucco with a variegated tile roof and green Venetian shutters (‘Ideal for State’ 1929: 13), and is currently used as St Ann’s College.

The new office building for the new Savings Bank of South Australia Head Office on King William Street was McMichael and Harris’ largest-ever commission (Page 1986: 180) and came just prior to the outbreak of World War Two. The partnership was well qualified to take on what was to become Adelaide’s tallest building. According to the centenary history of the Savings Bank of South Australia (1948), the bank’s head office was designed after McMichael and the bank’s trustees and executives had visited Sydney and Melbourne to inspect the most modern buildings there. The style is Art Deco with Classical elements. The motifs depicting South Australian agriculture were significant in defining this style, as was the use of the parallel line motif, the polished granite base and the monumental entrance. It took from 1938 to 1943 to be completed owing to the wartime shortages both of materials and labour. Michael Page wrote: ‘Albert Harris designed the front elevations in a style of dignified modernism which made the building one of the most notable of that era, while Gordon Brown was responsible for the interior layout including the banking chamber.’ (Page 1986: 186).

Eric McMichael passed away in March 1945 but Albert Harris continued the architectural practice as E.H. McMichael and Harris for several years longer. He was married to Mabel with whom he lived at 11 Frances Street, Clarence Park. They were buried in the same plot at Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia (Centennial Park online).

Julie Collins

Citation details
Collins, Julie, ‘Harris, Albert Charles’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2013, Architects of South Australia: []




Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
Wilcox Residence North Adelaide
Laubman and Pank building Adelaide 1933
Harris, Scarfe Limited retail premises Adelaide
Savings Bank of South Australia Head office Adelaide 1938
Shell House Adelaide 1931
Rechabite Chambers Adelaide 1928

Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
Richard Wellicome, England 1903-1907 
Messrs. Hoare and Wheeler Architects, London 1907-1913 
Woods, Bagot, Laybourne Smith and Jory 1913-1921 
E.H. McMichael 1921-1927 
E.H. McMichael and Harris 1927-1968 

Bibliographic Sources


Apperly, R, Irving, R. & Reynolds, P. (1989) A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Freeland, J.M. (1971) The Making of a Profession, Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Marsden, S., Stark, P. and Sumerling, P. (1990) Heritage of the City of Adelaide: An illustrated guide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Page, M (1986) Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA (SA), Adelaide.
Savings Bank of South Australia (1948) Our Century 1848-1948, SBSA, Adelaide.

‘Kelvin Buildings’ (photograph only), The Builder, 24 June 1925: 1.
‘Personal – Messrs. E.H. McMichael and Harris. New Architectural Partnership’, The Builder, 6 July 1927: 15. (includes photograph of Albert Harris)
‘Personal’, The Builder, 15 April 1925: 9.
‘Personal’, The Builder, 22 July 1925: 3.
‘Shell building’, Building and Construction, 20 November 1930.
‘Shell building’, Building and Construction, 26 February 1931.
Collins, Julie, Ibels, A., Collins, S. and Garnaut, C. (2006) ‘Adelaide rises from the plain: Perspectives on the emergence of tall buildings in South Australia's capital city’, Australian Planner, vol.43, no.3: 24-33.
Collins, Julie (2009) "Architects and Builders of South Australia - Eric McMichael (1884-1945) and Adelaide's Tall Buildings", Heritage South Australia Newsletter, Winter 2009: 14-15.

‘80 P.C. Increase in Building’, Advertiser, 18 October 1933: 18, online at
‘A Noted Architect,’ The Mail, 20 October 1923. (Eric McMichael)
‘Charles Birks & Co’, News, 29 October 1930: 9, online at
‘City building being remodelled’, Northern Argus, 6 April 1934: 6, online at
‘Death of Mr E.H. McMichael. Prominent city architect’, Advertiser, 23 March 1945: 7.
‘Home Plots and Houses. Rechabite Hall’, News, 19 Sep 1928: 10, online at
‘Hospital for Wudinna’, News, 12 October 1927: 11, online at
‘Ideal for State’ The Mail, 9 Mar 1929: 13, online at (Sydney Wilcox House).
‘Myer store grows bigger’, Chronicle, 19 November 1936: 46, online at
‘New Harris, Scarfe building’, News, 15 May 1929: 1, online at
‘New Savings Bank Headquarters’, Chronicle, 1 December 1938: 37, online at (includes illustration)
‘Notice of Partnership’, The Register, 2 July 1927: 2, online at
‘Rechabite Building’, News, 27 Aug 1928: 1, online at
‘Rechabite Headquarters’, Register, 5 July 1928: 5, online at
‘Shopping Centre at Manningham’, Advertiser, 14 October 1953: 6, online at
‘Structure designers - Mr Eric H. McMichael,’ The News, 10 April 1929.
‘Ten-Story Shell Building’, News, 23 February 1931: 1, online at
‘The Pride of Adelaide. – The Biggest Motor Body Works in the Southern Hemisphere’, Register, 28 June 1923: 7.

Savings Bank of South Australia (1943) The Savings Bank of South Australia, Souvenir of Opening of New Head Office, SBSA, Adelaide.

‘Officers and Members of the South Australian Institute of Architects – Members of the Council, 1915-1916’, The Salon, February 1916.
(1940) Sands & McDougall’s South Australian Directory, Adelaide.

McCaul, Patricia (n.d.) ‘Shell House, North Terrace, Adelaide’, unpublished student project, held at University of SA Library.

History of South Australian Architects 1984, including biographical notes on South Australian Architects, Cheesman collection, S209/2/20/1-3, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia.
Savings Bank of South Australia, Architectural drawings and specifications, Hurren, Langman and James collection, S248/2/7, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia.
South Australian Institute of Architects (SAIA) Roll Book, Jack Cheesman collection S347/1, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia

Collins, J., Ibels, A., Collins, S. and Garnaut, C. (2004) "Growing up: The rise of the multi-storey building in interwar Adelaide", Town Talk, 13th State History Conference, Adelaide 29-30 May.
Willis, Julie (1998) South Australian Architects Biography Project CD Rom, held at Architecture Museum, University of South Australia.

Centennial Park online at
Hoare & Wheeler, Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1949, Irish Architectural Archive, online at
Hoare & Wheeler, Dictionary of Scottish Architects, online at
Savings Bank of South Australia, Australian Heritage Places inventory, online at
Shell House, Australian Heritage Places inventory, online at

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