Development of detailed plans for the John Curtin Centre buildings commenced in 1994 when the building budget was finalised and project architects (Brand, Deykin & Hay) were appointed.
The Centre was built on a two hectare site on largely vacant slopes on the western side of Curtin University’s Bentley campus. The Prime Ministerial Library was on the south side, mainly on Level 1 of a two storey building. On Level 2 were the Library’s exhibition space, a theatrette and the Gallery. To the north was a Chancellery, with the two buildings linked by a colonnade (known as Whitlam Walk). In between was a grassy court, part of which it was intended to one day house a great hall.
To mark commencement of the building, a “ground-breaking” ceremony was held under a marquee on the slopes on 21 October 1994, performed by key federal government supporter Kim Beazley and Curtin Chancellor Harry Sorenson.
A Foundation Stone Laying ceremony was scheduled to be held in May 1997 but had to be postponed until November due to a pilots’ strike which might impact on the ability of interstate and overseas visitors to attend. The event was a formal occasion with the Premier, Richard Court, and John Curtin’s grandson, John Curtin Jr, in attendance.
- JCPML Consultative Group, Minutes of the Meeting 7 April 1994, typescript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML corporate records file COM3/2, 1.
- Susan Hart, Look Ever Forward: A History of Curtin University 1987-2012. (Perth, WA: Curtin University, 2014), 101.
- Vicki Williamson, interview by Lesley Carman-Brown, 9-17 October 2001, transcript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML00676/1, 23.;
John Cowdell, interview by John Ferrell, 21 February – 7 March 2006, interview notes, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML corporate records file MG/DON/J D/COW, 7.
- JCPML Consultative Group, Quarterly reports to members for 2nd and 4th quarters, 1997, typescript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML corporate records file COM3/2.
- Hart, Look Ever Forward, 101.