Built Heritage Consultants Melbourne
Dictionary of Unsung Architects   return to DUA index

Biographical Overview

The Melbourne-based architectural partnership of Murphy & Alekna was formed in 1964 by university graduates Hal Murphy and Buddy Alekna, who were both born circa 1938.  Harold Cockbill Murphy had studied at RMIT and the University of Melbourne.  While attending the university, he travelled to Hawaii to gain professional experience as the third and final envoy of an ambitious transpacific pilot programme initiated by Professor Brian Lewis in 1959.  Graduating in March 1962, Murphy had already become registered as an architect by the end of that year.  He achieved early plaudits when he won third prize in a 1963 residential design competition sponsored by the Tasmanian Timber Merchants Asssociation and, the following year, received the coveted Robert & Ada Haddon Travelling Scholarship.  Born in Lithuania to parents who migrated to Australia when he was eleven years old, Vytas "Buddy" Alekna completed his own architectural studies at RMIT and became registered in October 1963.  Within twelve months, the partnership of Murphy &  Alekna had emerged.

Over the new few years, the office of Murphy & Alekna focused primarily on residnetial work, undertaking commissions for private houses in developing parts of the Melbourne metropolitan area, as well as in regional centres such as Glenorchy, Peterborough and Warrackneabeal.   One of the firm's most lauded projects was a holiday house that Buddy Alekna built for himself at Portsea, the design of which was later incorporated into the Age/RAIA Housing Service range as standard plan T3175.  Aside from individual dwellings, the firm is also known to have undertaken projects for blocks of flats and villa units, and at least one office building.    

The partnership of Murphy & Alekna appears to have ceased around 1970, when Hal Murphy returned to Hawaii and took a position as an architect and town planner in the City & County of Honolulu.  He later moved to San Francisco, where he worked for several architectural firms including Fisher-Friedman Associates and Mahoney Architects.  Back in Melbourne, his esrtwhile partner Buddy Alekna continued to practise as an architect including stints with Moull Murray Architects and the PGI Design Group, a multi-disciplinary architecture and design practice that specialised in corporate identity, commercial interiors, retail merchandising, architectural graphics and exhibition design.  In the early 2000s, Alekna retired to a farming property in rural NSW and moved thence to Thailand, where he ran a hamburger bar for some years before returning to Australia.  

Select List of Projects

Murphy & Alekna




Residence, Yatama Court, Mount Waverley
Residence, Glenorchy
Residence, Peterborough
Residence, Eamon Court, Kew
Shop and office building, High Street, Preston
Residence, Arthur Street, Doncaster
Residence, Glendowan Road, Mount Waverley
Residence, Butler Street, Brighton
Block of flats, Brickwood Street, Brighton
Residence, London Bridge Road, Portsea
Residence, Warracknabeal
Residence, Duggan Street, Balwyn North
Residence, Elizabeth Street, Portsea

Buddy Alekna
Block of flats, corner Rosanna and Judd Streets, Carnegie
Additions to residence, 2 Elizabeth Street, Portsea
Refurbishment of residence, 26 Walker Street, Westgarth

Pair of villa units, 7 Fitzgibbon Crescent, Caulfield North

Murphy & Alekna
Residence, Yatama Court, Mount Waverley (1964)

Murphy & Alekna
Residence, Peterborough (1964)

Murphy & Alekna
Residence, Eamon Court, Kew (1965)

Murphy & Alekna
Shop and office building, High Street, Preston (1965)