The American Australian Association mourns the passing of Australian architect and designer Michael Bryce on 16 January 2021. We send our sincere condolences to his wife, Australia’s former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, his five children, and grandchildren.
Bryce was born in Brisbane in 1938 and undertook architectural studies at the University of Queensland. In 1966, he and his wife Quentin (who later became Australia’s first female Governor General) moved to London where Michael worked as an architectural illustrator. He returned to Brisbane in 1968 and established an architectural practice as well as a graphic design and signage business.
In 1981, his practice turned its attention away from designing buildings. In the following decades, his practice worked with institutions such as the National Trust, the Australian War Memorial and the Commonwealth Games. He designed logos for the Wallabies rugby union team, the Australian Dolphins swimming team and Sydney’s 2000 Olympic bid, which led to his appointment as principal design adviser to the 2000 Sydney Games.
“More than anyone else, Michael Bryce recognized that architecture, urban design, environmental design, graphic design and industrial design are all aspects of a professional continuum devoted to design as an intellectual and aesthetic pursuit,” said Alice Hampson, President of the Australian Institute of Architects.
“[He] promoted design professionals from the backroom to the boardroom, and placed them at the forefront in the culture of political and business decision-making. He was a powerful advocate for the value of design not only with clients, but also with government, business and industry.
“He was a luminary who, after a long and distinguished career, leaves behind a design and placemaking, the benefits of which will continue to be felt long into the future.”
Bryce was a Life fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and in 2006 he was inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s hall of fame. In the same year, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia. He was also made a Knight of Justice in the Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) and awarded the Air Efficiency Award (AE) for his service with the Royal Australian Airforce Reserve.
He was the inaugural patron of Good Design Australia, and has been a member of the boards of Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Queensland Orchestra and a trustee of Queensland Art Gallery.Bryce was also awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Queensland and Canberra. In 2020, he received the Australia Design Prize, the country’s highest design accolade.
“He once said that ‘Architecture is the fulcrum of our national design identity and this highly visible art form leads the way in so many other design endeavours, from furniture design, automotive design and urban design through interior, graphic and fashion design,’” Hampson said.
Obituary courtesy of The Australian Institute of Architects.