James Henry Esmond Dorney (1906–91), architect. Dorney, usually referred to as Esmond, was a highly original figure in post-Second World War Tasmanian architecture. Born in Melbourne, he worked with the legendary Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony, designers of Canberra. After pre-war practice in Melbourne and a period as a prisoner of war, he came to Hobart in 1949 for health and personal reasons. His designs explore space and light and use the lightest and most economical of materials, often in curved forms. The outstanding examples in Tasmania are Pius X Catholic Church at Taroona (1958) and a residence, 536 Sandy Bay Road, Hobart (1959). The individuality of his work and his maverick image have made him something of a cult hero among young architects and many of the owners of his houses.
Further reading: H Graham, 'J Esmond Dorney', in Spirit of progress 1/2, 2000; B McNeill & L Woolley, Architecture from the edge, Hobart, 2002.
Barry McNeill and Eric Ratcliff