Cedric Ian Turner was born in Kew on 22 February 1922. After matriculating from Melbourne Grammar School in 1938, he commenced the Bachelor of Architecture course at the University of Melbourne the following year. Concurrently with his studies, he spent a year as a draftsman in the office of A & K Henderson (1940-41) and then enrolled in the atelier. In October 1941, having completed three-quarters of his degree course, Turner enlisted with the Australian Army and served with the 10th Australian Infantry Training Batallion. Discharged only five months later due to poor health, he found work as a draftsman in the Collins Street office of Sydney R Bell & Associates, consulting engineers. He remained there for more than two years, during which time he also attended evening classes at the atelier. In 1945, he transferred to the office of Yuncken, Freeman Brothers, Griffiths & Simpson.
Turner was keen to become registered as an architect in Victoria, correctly anticipating that the early post-war years would be a boon for the profession. However, his noble aim was stymied by the fact that he had still not completed his university degree. By 1943, he had undertaken three years of evening classes at the atelier, and studied other subjects in what little spare time he had outside of his day jobs. Turner finally became a registered architect in April 1946 while still employed in the Yuncken office; his application was endorsed by principal partners Otto Yuncken, John Freeman and Roy Simpson. He would remain there until 1948, when he left to establish his own private practice.
During this early phase of his professional life, Turner's other passion was jazz music. From the late 1930s, he was a member of Melbourne's burgeoning circle of jazz enthusiasts that included Graeme Bell, Ade Monsborough and many others. In the early 1940s, he organised a number of recording sessions with a view to establishing his own label, Jelly Roll Records; although this did not eventuate, he carefully preserved the acetates for future use. Turner was involved in the establishment of the First Australian Jazz Convention, held in Adelaide in 1945 (and every year since) and also served as editor of the monthly newsletter Jazz Notes, from January 1945 until June 1946. Towards the end of the decade, Turner curtailed his involvement in jazz-related activities in order to focus on his newly-established architectural practice. However, he retained an interest and attended occasional events. At the Fourth Australian Jazz Convention, held in Melbourne in December 1949, Turner served as the MC; in a newspaper report of the event, he was described as "a staid-looking young architect and 'hot' record collector".
In the early years of his practice, Turner's output was characterised by small-scale residential projects that tended to use striking geometric planning; several examples were published in newspapers and magazines. From the late 1950s, he began to embrace larger-scale industrial, commercial and civic projects. His office, based in Collins Street and styled as C Ian Turner & Associates, expanded and contracted over the years with the number of titular associates varying from four to zero. By the late 1970s, he was effectively working alone from suburban premises at Highbury Road, Burwood East. Subsequently, he closed his practice and became an associate of architect and town planner Kenneth Bethell (1922-2017), then based in East Melbourne. Turner was still working as Bethell's associate at the time of his death in September 1983, at the early age of only 61 years.
Aside from the many buildings that he designed, Turner's enduring legacy is the preservation of Melbourne's jazz music from the early post-war era. In 2003, twenty years after his death, the acetate recordings that Turner preserved were re-issued on CD by the Victorian Jazz Archive under the title, The Jelly Roll Label sessions, 1943-1945: Rare Collectable Jazz from the Archive, from the C Ian Turner Acetate Collection.
Select List of Projects
C Ian Turner & Associates