Was among the most promising South African architects of his generation but died aged thirty-six. His best-known building is that for the South African Mutual in Pretoria. McConnell was educated at the South African College School, Cape Town, and was articled to BAKER & KENDALL in Cape Town from September 1913 for four years. He spent two months overseas before signing articles. In 1920 he became a member of the Cape Institute of Architects and won the Baker scholarship. In 1921 he sat the RIBA examination at Conduit Street, London, his application for Associate membership of the RIBA being signed in Rome by AH Mason at the British School at Rome. He appears to have returned to South Africa only about 1925 when he set up practice on his own account in Cape Town. His first large commission was the proposed new premises for the Board of Aid in Green St, Cape Town, in 1926. In 1927 he won the competition for the South African Mutual Life Assurance Company Head Offices in Pretoria; a consulting architect, FM GLENNIE, was appointed. He was also placed in the competition for the Bloemfontein Town Hall (c1930) won by G LEITH. In 1930 he became a full-time lecturer in architecture at the Cape Town School of Architecture which was then at the Michaelis School of Art on HJ BROWNLEE's retirement and, according to ED ANDREWS (1987), McConnell was a far more interesting lecturer. He continued to practise privately and his office appears to have been a popular place for students to gain their few months' practical office experience.
McConnell was a keen watercolour artist and, again according to ED ANDREWS, spent a considerable time in his office on this type of work and this skill was noted in his obituary in the Architect, Builder and Engineer: 'a fine flair for colour and for variety and playfulness of form'. McConnell died in Queenstown, Cape, 'One of the best known of the younger generation of Cape Town architects' (SAB Jan 1932:33).
ARIBA 1921; ISAA 1927. (AB&E Apr 1920:2; AB&E Feb 1926:21; AB&E Jan 1932:34 obit port; ARIBA nom papers (3253) 1921; Cumming-George 1933; Andrews 1986; ISAA mem list; RIBA Jnl 1931-32:590 obit; SAAR Dec 1927:91-95 ill; SAAR Apr 1933:88; SAB Oct 1930:21, 49; SAB Feb 1932:33 obit)
All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.