BArch 1952 (Witwatersrand)
Herbert Maurice John Prins attended St Andrew's School in Bloemfontein. At the University of the Witwatersrand he qualified as an architect in 1952, received a Diploma in Town Planning in 1973 and a Masters Degree in Conservation in 1990. Between 1952 and 1955 he was employed by the Harlow Development Corporation in Essex, England, under Sir Frederick Gibberd, returning to South Africa in 1956 to join the practice of HANSON & TOMKIN, Architects in Johannesburg, and TOMKIN & HANSON in Durban. In 1960 He became a partner in charge of the Johannesburg office known as HANSON, TOMKIN & PRINS ARCHITECTS.
Examples of his work at this time are the master plan for the Science Campus and the Physics building on the Science Campus at Natal University, the Mining and Geology Building at Wits University and the Wits Medical Library and Medical School in Esselen Street. He was a Senior Lecturer at Wits University Department of Architecture from 1970 to 1990; Head of Department from 1976 to 1978, being a Member of the Senate in 1981 and 2000, and a member of the Board of the Faculty of Architecture from 1980 to 2000.
He opened the practice of H M J PRINS ARCHITECT specilaising in heritage consulting, and consultancies include, inter alia, the restoration of the Reserve Bank, Pretoria; the restoration of the Pretoria Railway Station (gutted by fire in 2001); Constitution Hill; Kliptown; Newtown Precinct; Fashion District; Emoyeni; the Gautrain Park development; Church Square Post Office alterations; the Barbican; Consolidated Building; Vilakazi Street; Walter Sisulu House; Chancellor House; Windybrow Theatre; Wattville and Thokoza Hostels; Carnegie Library, Germiston; 1928 Building, Pretoria Station.
He has been actively involved in committees such as SACAP and the National Monuments Council (NMC), Provincial Heritage Resources Agency, Gauteng (PHRAG), as President of the Transvaal Institute of Architects (TIA) in 1978 and 1979, President in Chief of the Institute of South African Architects (ISAA) in 1982 and 1983 and is presently Chairman of the Rosebank Action Group (RAG), Acting Chairman of the Egoli Heritage Foundation (formerly the Simon van der Stel Foundation, Witwatersrand Branch) and Vice Chairman of the Johannesburg Heritage Trust.
He administered the architectural competitions for Freedom Square in Kliptown, and the Northern Cape Legislature Building in Kimberley and was an adjudicator for the Liliesleaf Farm and the Constitutional Court competitions. In 2007 together with two others, he administered an architectural competition for the Southbank (Spier Estate) competition and in 2009 administered the architectural competition for the design of a new building to accommodate the offices of the Premier of the Eastern Cape.
His particular interest in heritage has involved him in many projects, including consulting on the ongoing developments at Constitution Hill and at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. He was awarded the Gold Medal of Distinction of the South African Institute of Architects and the Gold Medal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (now Heritage South Africa).
Compiled by Herbert Prins and submitted by William MARTINSON
2019 03 28: Herbert Prins receives a gold medal for a life time of achievements recognized by his alma mater, University of the Witwatersrand.
Mr Herbert Prins is a distinguished architect and one of South Africa's most eminent authorities in the field of architecture, design and heritage. He is renowned for his work in heritage objects conservation, a relatively new field, for which the modalities of practice are still being established.
Mr Prins served at the forefront of the development in this area long before historic conservation became a popular word in the discipline and his contributions in the field both in South Africa and abroad, are evident. At the age of 91, he continues to actively and energetically contribute to public interest projects in Gauteng and beyond.
A Wits graduate, Mr Prins qualified as an architect in 1952 and holds a five-year professional Bachelor of Architecture degree, a Masters of Architecture qualification and a Diploma in Town Planning. A dedicated teacher, he practiced as a full time architect and then served as a faculty member in the Wits Department of Architecture for 26 years, serving as the Head of Department, a member of Senate and a member of the board of the faculty. At Wits, he was responsible for developing the Mining and Geology Building and the former Medical Library and the Medical School in Esselen Street, Johannesburg. He also developed the master plan for the Science Campus and the Physics Building at the then University of Natal.
Mr Prins focused his energy on heritage conservation in the later years of his career and worked as a heritage consultant on several major projects including the restoration of the Reserve Bank in Pretoria, the restoration of the Pretoria Railway Station which was gutted by fire in 2001, the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown which commemorates the Congress of the People in 1955, the Newtown Precinct in Johannesburg and the upgrading of Vilikazi Street in Soweto.
Mr Prins has been an unflagging and prominent activist for South Africa's, Gauteng's and Johannesburg's architectural heritage. Since shortly before his retirement from Wits in 1996, Mr Prins has served as a member of the Building Committee of the Constitutional Court and he played a key role in the construction of the new Constitutional Court on Constitution Hill. Former Constitutional Court Justice Kate O'Regan lauds his attention to detail and deep commitment to the constitutional project of building a society to free the potential of all South Africans, a view which former Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron concurs. He adds that Prins's views are "knowledgeable, authoritative and compelling and bring a truly vast array and depth of architectural, design, aesthetic and cultural-historical wisdom and knowledge to the work of the Court."
Post the Second World War, Mr Herbert Prins also played an integral role in planning the centre of Harlow New Town in Essex, England, amongst several other major projects.
A registered member of the South African Council for the Architectural Profession, Mr Prins is also an Associate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He has been awarded the Gold Medal of Distinction from the South African Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (now Heritage South Africa), the Gauteng Institute for Architecture’s Honorary Life Membership Award and is a lifetime member of the South African Institute of Architects.
Due to his noteworthy contribution to heritage preservation and architecture, his professional and academic distinction, and his exceptional contribution and service to society, it is with great honour that Mr Herbert Maurice John Prins is presented with the University of the Witwatersrand's Gold Medal.
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