Built Heritage Consultants Melbourne
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OSCAR A T GIMESY (1920-1993)

Biographical Overview

Born in Budapest on 4 October 1920, Oscar Andrew Tibor Gimesy studied architecture at the Palatine Joseph University of Technology & Economics (now Budapest University of Technology & Economics).  Graduating on 6 December 1942, he took a position as a building engineer in the Ministry of Buildings, remaining there until end of the Second World War.  He then moved to Italy, where he worked in the Milan studio of architect and engineer Dr Carlo Cantaluppi; he remained there almost eighteen months before starting his own practice, also as architect and engineer, in October 1947.  Gimesy, who could already speak English, Hungarian, Italian, German  and French, closed his office in Milan in order to migrate to Australia; he arrived in Melbourne in 1949.  

Gimesy spent his first six months in Australia employed by the Shire of Wodonga as an assistant to Shire Engineer, R J Martin, working mainly as a draftsman.  Wishing to broaden his professional experience, Gimesy left in May 1950 and spent ten weeks as a draftsman in the Collins Street office of Marcus Martin (1893-1981), a leading pre-war society architect who, by this time, was practising in a loose association with the much younger Stephen Dorling (1912-2007). Towards the end of 1950, Gimesy transferred to the Department of Works, where he was employed as a structural engineerting draftsman for the next five years.  He then had a brief two-month stint with the Melbourne Harbour Trust, working this time as an architect, engaged on the documentation and detailing of cargo sheds and an office block.  By the time that became registered as an architect during 1956, he was working for Bates, Smart & McCutcheon.  He remained with the firm when it transferred to its new offices in St Kilda Road, but had departed by 1957 to establish his own architectural practice.  

Following the introduction of commercial television service into Australia in 1956, Gimesy became intrigued by the architectural and engineering ramifications.  He parlayed this into post-graduate study, undertaking a Master of Architecture degree at the University of Melbourne.  His thesis, entitled "The Design of Television Stations", was completed in 1958, and his degree conferred in December 1959.  This study coincided with his appointment in 1958 as Senior Consulting Architect to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a post that we would hold until 1971. During the 1960s, Gimesy also undertook private commissions, typically houses for fellow emigres.  His most celebrated residential project was the so-called Quest of Quests display house in Mount Waverley, built as a charity fundraiser using material donated by various manufacturers and suppliers of building products.  

From late 1968 until early 1970, Gimesy embarked upon an extensive overseas study tour, visiting Europe, North Africa, Canada and elsewhere.  During this tuime, he furthered his education by completing a Doctorate in Building Engineering at Milan Polytechnic.  Towards the end of 1970, he undertook a second tour, this time focusing on the Pacific region.  After returning to Melbourne in early 1971, he resigned from his position of Senior Architect to the ABC to resume full-time private practice, styled as Oscar A T Gimesy & Associates, architects and acoustical consultants.  A surviving letterhead from the mid-1970s shows that, by that time, Gimesy's qualifications had expanded to include a doctorate of science (obtained in London in 1975), while his post-nominals indicated fellowships of the RAIA, Royal Society of Arts, Australian Institute of Management and American Institute of Design, as well as associateship of the several other bodies.  While the office was based in Sandringham, it was stated to have associates in the UK, Hawaii, Austria, France and Italy.  

In later life, Gimesy remained active in many other spheres.  He served as a member of numerous committees, advistory councils and jury panels, was a life governor of the Sandringham & District Hospital, presented a regular program on radio station 3LO and
wrote a column for the Age newspaper.  After a brief stint as a CAE lecturer, he completed a Graduate Diploma of Education in 1980 and went on to become a Senior Lecturer at Footscray Institute of Technology (later Victoria University of Technology).  Hav ing already published a number of articles and conference papers, Gimesy authored two textbooks towards the end of his life: Built from Nothing: A History of the Building Industry in Australia (1992) and its broader follow-up, Building our World: A History of Building Construction, published posthumously in 1994.  

Select List of Projects





Factory for A B Cambridge Pty Ltd, Whitehall Street, Footscray
Residence, Yarra Street, Kew
Residence, Marriage Road, East Brighton
Residence, Gould Street, Frankston
Veterinary clinic, Mitcham Road, Donvale
Residence, Matlock Court, Caulfield
Residence, Orama Court, Moorabbin
Residence, Bentleigh
Block of flats, North Road, Huntingdale
Residence, Molesworth Street, Kew

Residence, Wattle Grove, Ormond
Residence, Stephensons Road, Mount Waverley

Oscar Gimesy in the late 1960s
Oscar A T Gimesy in the late 1960s

House at Kew by Oscar Gimesy
Residence, Yarra Street, Kew (1961)

House at Mount Waverley by Oscar Gimesy
Residence, Mount Waverley (1966)

House at Kew by Oscar Gimesy
Interior of residence at Molesworth Street, Kew (1970)

The author would like to thank the Gimesy family for kindly providing further information, documentation and the portrait photograph.