Architect Personal DetailsArchitectural works in South Australia
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Architect Personal Details



First name

Frank Colin (Colin)








Frank Colin Hassell (Colin) was one of the generation of architects who led the architectural profession during the ‘design revolution’ (Page 1986: 263) following World War Two.

Born on 13 September 1910, Frank Colin Hassell was the son of an English printer. His mother was Cornish. His parents immigrated to Adelaide where his father founded the Hassell Press. Colin described himself as having had ‘a very ordinary South Australian childhood including a keen interest in every type of sport’ (Page 1986: 183). He was educated at Prince Alfred College and later, in 1958, became a President of the Prince Alfred Collegians Association. In 1941 he married Katherine Robertson with whom he had three children, David, John and Mary. Following the death of Katherine in 1950 he continued his work as senior partner of the practice while raising their children (Horton 2007). In June 1961 he married Marjorie Lisle (nee Johnson). He passed away on 30 August 2007.

In 1928 Hassell was articled to Hubert Cowell while he studied architecture. In 1933 he graduated with an Architectural Draughtsman’s Certificate and in the same year with a joint Fellowship Diploma in the course of Architectural Engineering at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and the University of Adelaide (Walkley 1976). In 1935 he travelled overseas on an Orient Line Scholarship studying and working in London architectural offices for two years. During his time in Europe, Hassell was surrounded by the ‘fervour of Modernism’ and the teachings of the Bauhaus (Profile). Keen on photography, he stated that of necessity he had ‘done a number of overseas trips to study various particular projects and architecture in general’ (Hassell 1974).

On his return to Adelaide in 1937 Hassell worked with Philip R. Claridge and Associates, and in 1939 entered the partnership with Philip Claridge and Jack McConnell that became known as Claridge, Hassell and McConnell. His architectural career was interrupted between 1941 and 1945 when he served in the Australian Army in the Middle-East and New Guinea, achieving the rank of Captain. At war’s end he resumed with Claridge, Hassell and McConnell but in 1949, following Claridge’s retirement, the partnership became Hassell, McConnell and Partners. It established offices in Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra.

In 1962 John Morphett joined the practice bringing with him the cultural legacy of the Bauhaus where collaboration was believed to be a powerful design methodology (Horton 2007). The partnership was reconstituted as Hassell and Partners Pty. Ltd. in the 1970s with Hassell as Senior Principal and Managing Director of the group of firms. Until the end of 1978 Hassell remained as Chairman of Directors. During this period the company retained its office in Adelaide and opened others in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. At this time Hassell was also Chairman of Directors of the Urban Planning firm of Hassell Planning Consultants Pty. Ltd. and the Landscape Architectural firm of Land Systems Pty. Ltd. These were two allied practices (Building and Architecture 1982: 15). The practice continues today as HASSELL.

Colin Hassell was elected an Associate of the South Australian Institute of Architects (SAIA) in 1934 and a Fellow in 1951. Active in the SAIA, he was a member of the Chapter Council and Honorary Secretary for a period. In 1972 he was made a Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA). Hassell was Chairman of the South Australian-based RAIA Board of Education and the Practice Committee for some years. He was also a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia and Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 1982 at the age of 71, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to architecture (Advertiser 1982). Long active in the community, Hassell was a member of the Apex Club prior to World War Two and of the Adelaide Legacy Club and the Adelaide Rotary Club into the 1980s. He was President of Legacy in 1957, President of the Prince Alfred Collegians Association in 1958, and Vice-President of Rotary in 1977.

Philip R. Claridge and Associates designed the Bank of New South Wales building on the corner of North Terrace and King William Street, Adelaide, in 1937. It was designed in the interwar stripped Classical style and stands today as a prominent monument to modern design, restrained but strong, in grey limestone. In 1940 the practice won a design competition for the Prospect Town Hall, Prospect Road, which could be considered ‘Moderne’ in style.

Claridge, Hassell and McConnell won the 1946 competition for the design of the Burnside War Memorial Hospital and in 1947 the practice designed new premises in the modern style for the International Harvester Co. at East Terrace, Southwark (now Thebarton). During the post-World War Two period the practice’s commissions comprised mainly industrial, commercial and educational buildings including the ANZ Bank (c.1955), Flinders Street, Adelaide, with its sun-shading determining the aesthetic of the façade, the State Bank (c.1955) South Road, Ridleyton, featuring free design and open accessible planning, and the Bragg Laboratories (1960) at the University of Adelaide. The Bragg Laboratories building was designed in International style in accordance with the rationalist philosophy of the time. It was planned on a modular grid and used an expressed steel structural grid with plate glass window walls (Bragg Laboratories). These buildings reflected the design philosophy of the modern era and conveyed Hassell's own belief that it was important in his work to avoid ‘anything that is false’ (Hassell 1974).

Major Claridge, Hassell and McConnell projects outside of South Australia included several that have received various RAIA awards such as the H.J. Heinz Co. Ltd. Factory Complex (1955) Dandenong, Victoria, Channel ‘0’ TV Station (1965) Melbourne, Victoria and the Administration Building, BALM Paints Ltd. (1966) Rocklea, Queensland. In Adelaide in the late 1950s and early 1960s Hassell, McConnell and Partners designed a landmark department store for David Jones (1959-62) on Rundle Street (now Mall), Adelaide. This building contributed an ambience of calm elegance to the city’s main shopping strip. The practice also designed the Reid Building, South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT) (c.1960), Frome Road, Adelaide, and the SAS Channel 10 Television Studios (c.1960), Park Terrace, Gilberton. After John Morphett joined the practice in 1962, came the commission for Prince Alfred College Hall (c.1963) Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town.

In 1965 the National Insurance Building, Waymouth Street, Adelaide, was designed with applied ‘sun control’ screens to unify the building. Other buildings completed in this period included those at the South Australian Institute of Technology campus at the Levels (Page 1986) and both the student, administrative and humanities building and the science building at the Flinders University of South Australia campus, Bedford Park, which received a RAIA SA Chapter Award of Merit in 1968 (South Australian Chapter Bulletin RAIA 1973).

A landmark building for the practice was the Adelaide Festival Theatre that opened in 1973 on King William Road, Adelaide, facing onto the River Torrens. The clients were the Adelaide City Council and the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust (Hassell 1974). It was the first stage of the Festival Centre complex and has been hailed as a major step forward in modern architecture in South Australia (Page 1986). Hassell led a study team to the United States and Europe to research theatre designs before beginning to design the Festival Centre (Lloyd 2007). The design developed from the inside out (Hassell 1974) and included ‘continental’ seating, an unusual concept for the time, in which a central aisle did not divide the seats across the span of the auditorium (Page 1986). The ability to control the acoustics for different uses introduced flexibility unknown in earlier theatres (Page 1986).

Other significant buildings designed by Hassell and Partners include the eight-storey open deck Rundle Car Park (1975-77) on the corner of Rundle and Pulteney Streets, Adelaide, recognised for its integrated form, structure and function, and Annesley College Junior School (c.1975-85) Rose Terrace, Wayville.

‘As an architect he is remembered for his contribution to the development of the profession in South Australia, and for the foresight of his vision for a collaborative and inclusive workplace’ (Horton 2007: 47).

Christine Sullivan

Citation details
Sullivan, Christine, 'Hassell, Frank Colin’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2008, Architects of South Australia: []




Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
Bank of New South Wales Adelaide 1939
South Australian Institute of Technology at The Levels
Flinders University Bedford Park 1965
Bragg Laboratories Adelaide 1962
Reid Building Adelaide 1960
ANZ Bank Adelaide 1955
State Bank Ridleyton 1955
David Jones Adelaide 1961
SAS Channel 10 Gilberton 1960
Prince Alfred College Hall Kent Town 1963
National Insurance Building Adelaide 1965
Adelaide Festival Centre Adelaide 1970
Rundle Street Carpark Adelaide 1975
Annesley College Junior School Wayville
The Arts Centre Mt Gambier
Prospect Town Hall Prospect 1940

Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
Articled to Hubert Henry Cowell 1928-1935 
London architectural offices 1935-1937 
Philip R. Claridge and Associates 1937-1939 
Claridge, Hassell and McConnell 1939-1941 
Claridge, Hassell and McConnell 1945-1949 
Hassell, McConnell & Partners 1949-1962 
Hassell and Partners Pty. Ltd. 1962-1978 

Bibliographic Sources


(1980) Blue Book of South Australia and Biographies Australia, South Australia.
(2004) ‘Who’s Who in Australia’, Crown Content, Melbourne.
Brine, J. (2012) 'HASSELL' in Goad, P. and Willis, J. (eds) The encyclopaedia of Australian architecture, Cambridge University Press: 317-318.
Marsden, S., Stark, P. and Sumerling, P. (eds.) (1990) Heritage of the City of Adelaide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Page, M. (1986) Sculptors in Space, South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA SA Chapter, Adelaide.
RAIA (SA Chapter) (1981) Architecture SA: 1970-1980, RAIA (SA Chapter), Unley.
Walkley, G. (1976) The Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Building, South Australian Institute of Technology, Adelaide.

‘Architect in Honours List’ (1982) Building and Architecture, July, vol. 9, no.6: 15.
‘Life Fellowship – RAIA’ (1973) South Australian Chapter Bulletin/ RAIA, November: 2.
‘Membership Roll, January 1st 1949’ (1949) Year Book of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 1949, January: 109.
‘South Australian Chapter’ (1957-8) Year Book of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 1957-58: 131.
Brown, I. (1977) ‘Adelaide Festival Centre review’, Architecture Australia, October/November.
Horton, T. (2007) ‘Obituary: Frank Colin (Colin) Hassell AO 1910-2007’, Place, December: 47.
Saunders, D. (1973) ‘Sense and nonsense of the Adelaide Festival Theatre’, Architecture in Australia, December: 60-3.

‘SA gets five new OAs’, Advertiser, 12 June 1982: 4.
Lloyd, T. ‘He changed the face of Adelaide', Advertiser, 29 September 2007: 76.

Hassell, Frank Colin (1974) Interview with Frank Colin Hassell, interviewer Hazel de Berg Architecture and Building Heritage in South Australia Oral History Project (Full transcript), recorded 16 March 1974, OH 765/7, State Library of South Australia.

RAIA South Australia Significant Twentieth Century Architecture, RAIA Collection, S301, LLSAM.
McConnell Collection S270/4/78, Newspaper clippings book regarding Festival Hall (now Festival Theatre) 1968, Adelaide.

Graduation Booklet (1955) The University of Adelaide, Adelaide.

Australian Heritage Places Inventory (AHPI), online at

Bragg Laboratories, A Selection on Notable Buildings on the Register, SA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, online at
Bragg Laboratories, Australian Heritage Database, online at
Commonwealth of Australia, WW2 Nominal Roll, online at
Profile – Hassell architects, online at

Willis, J. (1998) South Australian Architects Biography Project, University of South Australia, CD ROM, located in the LLSAM.

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