The man himself
Walter Burley Griffin, the man with the plan, was, in fact, American. Walter Burley Griffin was born on November 24, 1876 in Maywood, Illinois. In high school, Griffin showed an interest in landscape gardening and today would certainly be impressed with Canberra's. The family had moved to a new house in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst and Griffin was involved in landscaping their own backyard. His parents let him do what he wanted and before long his brother and sisters were calling it 'The Jungle' because he was experimenting with so many different forms of plants. In 1895, Griffin enrolled in the Department of Architecture at University of Illinois and four years later graduated in Architecture. He returned to home where he quickly found a job as a draughtsman working with Chicago's most progressive and imaginative architects. From 1899 to 1914, Griffin created more than 130 designs in his Chicago office for buildings, urban plans and landscapes, half of which were built in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1912, Griffin won the Canberra Commission for the design of the Federal Capital of Australia. Griffin arrived down under in October 1913 as Federal Director of Design and Construction - development of the city was ready to begin. Dominating Griffin's plan was a central artificial lake and a 'parliamentary triangle' in which the most important national buildings were to be placed. The surrounding residential areas had a geometric street pattern, circular and radial in shape, all fitting well into the general topography. Griffin continued to practise as an architect in Australia and design also the Newman College at the University of Melbourne, the Capitol Theatre and some houses. By 1935, Griffin was reduced to designing municipal incinerators and he left Australia to take up an architectural appointment in India. He died there in 1937 at the age of 60. Interestingly, his wife was also an architect of some reknown. Having writ all of the above I should add that the lake you see today is not the one that Burley Griffin designed but it has certainly added much to the city by way of breaking up streets and suburbs and placing a quieter and more subdued atmosphere right in the centre.