WILSON, Francis Gordon
A new biography of Wilson, Francis Gordon appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Francis Gordon Wilson was born on 27 November 1900 in Perth, Western Australia. He was educated in Wellington, New Zealand, at the Terrace School and at the Technical College. In 1916 he was articled to William Page, architect. He commenced his professional architectural studies in 1920 at Auckland University College, at the same time working for Hoggard, Prouse, and Gummer. He joined the firm of Gummer and Ford at its inception in 1922 and, in 1929, after being elected an associate of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in the previous year, was made an associate partner of the firm. In this position he became involved in such projects as the Remuera Library, the Wellington Public Library, the Auckland Railway Station, the National War Memorial Carillon, and the Dominion Museum and National Art Gallery.
In 1936 Wilson was appointed to the staff of the Public Works Department, where he held the positions consecutively of Housing Architect, Chief Housing Architect, Assistant Government Architect, and, finally, Government Architect. In 1932 he received special commendation for his entry in the R.I.B.A. Empire Victory Scholarship Competition and in 1948 was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Architects' Gold Medal for the design of the Dixon Street State Flats. The New Zealand Institute of Architects elected him a fellow in 1951, and in 1954 he was made an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He served on the National Historic Places Trust, the Town Planning Board, the Association of New Zealand Art Societies, the Architectural Centre Council, and the council and executive committee of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.
In 1936 he married Virginia Smith and had three sons and two daughters. He died in Wellington on 23 February 1959.
Gordon Wilson's major contribution to New Zealand's architecture was in the field of coordination and administration; he recognised very early in his career the value of team work in the design and construction of buildings and he had the ideal personality to coordinate the various specialists into an efficient and enthusiastic working group. A sound designer himself, he insisted upon high-quality design in all his projects; indeed, it was this insistence which stimulated much of the keenness of his design teams.
He did not enter private practice on his own account but was always associated with others; first in a progressive private office, later in the State Housing Division, and, finally, as Government Architect. He joined the Housing Department at its inception and was largely responsible for its organisation and development as an important Department of State. His skill found greater scope on his appointment as Government Architect. In this capacity he was not only responsible for many buildings of national importance but he also became associated in his official capacity with many other important projects, such as development plans for universities, New Zealand House in London, and as an assessor of architectural competitions.
by William Hildebrand Alington, B.ARCH.(N.Z.), M.ARCH.(ILL.), Architect, Ministry of Works, Wellington and Cyril Roy Knight, M.A., BARCH. (LIVERPOOL), F.R.I.B.A., F.R.S.A., F.N.Z.I.A., Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland.
- Dominion, 24 Feb 1959 (Obit), 26 Feb 1959
- Auckland Star, 24 Feb 1959 (Obit)
- Wanganui Herald, 24 Feb 1959 (Obit)
- The Journal of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Vol. 26 (Mar and Apr 1959).