Harold Smith (1913-2008) was a Sydney architect who led the partnership Smith Jesse Payne and Hunt (SJPH, later renamed Designinc Sydney). He briefly worked in London, New York and Hollywood before the Second World War.
Harold Smith (1913–2008) was born in New York and arrived in Australia as a baby. He graduated from Sydney Technical College and married in 1936 after working as a student for Walter Burley Griffin, A.V. Gorrell, Sam Lipson, CH Finch and the Commonwealth Works Department. In mid-1937, he travelled to London and worked for Australian expatriate Oscar Bayne there for 18 months, then went to New York in September 1938 and worked as a draughtsman for the New York World’s Fair Corporation until May 1939. Afterwards he and his wife, Sophie, drove across the US to work in Los Angeles, working initially for Universal Studios as a junior set designer, then various temporary jobs, then began at 20th Century Fox as a draughtsman for the sets of Swanee River, Little Ol’ New York and The Bluebird of Happiness. He also worked briefly as a tool designer on the night shift at Douglas Aircraft Corporation. After returning to Sydney in March 1940, he designed the Fogelman and Goilstein residences in Sydney, then worked until 1946 with the Commonwealth Works Department and the Commonwealth Housing Commission (which merged in 1945); joining their Department of Post-War Reconstruction for the redevelopment of Darwin and Canberra in 1944. That year, he also produced a booklet called Planning the Community. In 1946, he set up a private practice and first designed four houses in Sunnyside Crescent, Castlecrag (including his own residence), while lecturing in town plannng at the Sydney Technical College. In 1957, he gave one of his young employees, Robert Jesse, a partnership and their practice, Smith and Jesse, specialised in hotels and clubs, later banks. Key projects were the Wolper Hospital, Woollahra (1952); the Bexley North Hotel (1954); the Enfield Hotel (1955); Bankstown Synagogue (1957); the Burwood RSL (1959); the Fairfield Civic Centre and Town Hall (1961); the North Bondi RSL (1962); the Castlecove Golf Club (1964); the North Bondi Golf Club (1965); Commonwealth Banks at North Sydney (1968), Kogarah (1973) and Surry Hills (1975). On receiving a major commission to design the Commonwealth Bank’s computer centre in 1974, Smith and Jesse took on two more partners, Lindsay Payne and John Hunt, forming the practice Smith Jesse Payne and Hunt (later renamed SJPH and then Designinc NSW). Harold Smith was a town planning consultant to Redfern, Rockdale, Kogarah and Woollahra councils, author of a 1971 book called Valid Architecture, and was featured in Who’s Who and the Australian Dictionary of Biography, served on the councils of both the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture and the Royal Australian Planning Institute and was a part-time lecturer at the School of Architecture, Sydney Technical College, 1946-1954, then continued until 1971 with the renamed NSW Institute of Technology. In 1962, he was on the curricula advisory committee for a new diploma of architecture course at the revived Sydney Technical College. He retired from SJPH in 1981, although continued for several years as a consultant. Sources —Jackson, Davina. 2004. Interview with Harold Smith. October. —McGillick, Paul. M.Arch (history and theory) thesis on Harold Smith for the University of NSW. —Smith, Harold. 2004. Curriculum Vitae. Checked by Harold Smith in March 2005.