John F. T. Scarborough - Architect
A Brief History of the Morris Miller Library
• In the late 1950s, as part of the shift from the Domain to the Sandy Bay site, the Morris Miller Library (MML) was designed by Melbourne modernist architect, John F.D. Scarborough, as the major research and undergraduate library for the University.
• Correspondence and notes, now held at the Archives Office of Tasmania, indicate there was a clear intention to plan the building “from the inside out” and that it should not be a matter of “style or fad”.
• The Library was planned for a student population of 2,000.
• In an early statement Scarborough expresses that there would be no need for a “monumental reading room” and that book stacks and reading space should be mixed; staff would include typists and “persons engaged to keep order on the various floors” and smoking would be permitted in the “Academic Staff Reading Room”!
• Early on the design for a mezzanine floor and the “wells” were seen to add “elevational interest” – at the time the University Librarian, Dietrich H. Borchardt, drew Scarborough’s attention to the criticism of the De Pauw University Library building: “with an open well you have noise that is naturally going up to the second floor .. hot air will shoot up”, adding that this question will “scarcely worry us in Tasmania – hot language might be another matter”!
• The MML’s external louvers were in the initial plan as well as the apparently novel idea (Mr Borchardt had visited libraries in the United States in 1958) of a “letter box provision” at the front door to enable students to return books when the library is closed.
• The swatches for the original colour scheme are in the Archives papers – olive green and the lightest lemon shade for the entry floor, “colonial ivory” for the Venetian blinds.
• The Library building was handed over in July 1961 (without the two top floors, these were added at a later date) and in a letter to Scarborough dated 3 July, Borchardt is full of praise for the “pleasing proportions” and “simple but dignified lines both inside and out” and concludes that Scarborough will be remembered “longer than many who had the pleasure of being associated with you in the planning of the ‘heart of the university’”.
• Scarborough and his firm were responsible for many fine collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings including Melbourne University’s Baillieu Library which opened in 1959.
• The Library is named after Edmund Morris Miller - 1881 - 1964.
• The UTAS Library Master Plan was developed in 2005 by Hamlet Consulting and identified the best planning option was for the Morris Miller building to revert to the original design intent, including the layout of collections and services throughout the library. There was the clear recognition that the need to accommodate collections over the years had overtaken user space. In addition, the adoption of information technology and online resources required different user space configurations and functional alignment.
• In redeveloping and redesigning Level 2, Hamlet Management describe Scarborough’s design as employing “light and voids to create interiors for libraries that capture the inspirational and mind freeing perceptions of vistas, volumes of air and light, and the interest of views to the different levels of the building. He places people to the perimeter against the light and collections to the spine centre”.
• Following the redevelopment of Level 1 which represented Stage 1 of the UTAS Library Master Plan, the work on Level 2, the second stage, commenced in November 2009.
• The architects for the Level 1 and Level 2 projects were Adelaide-based architectural firm Thomson Rossi who worked with Philip Lighton architects here in Hobart.
Authorised by the University Librarian
21 February, 2012