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HERBERT, Gilbert

Born: 1924 06 22
Died: 2017 07 10


Reg No: 1009
Year registered: 1947

Gilbert HERBERT was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 22 June 1924. He married Valerie Estelle (born Ryan) and they had two children, a son Barry Charles (dec.) and a daughter Margalit (m. Boeangui).

He studied at the University of the Witwatersrand having the degrees B.Arch. 1947; Dip.T.P. 1951; M.Arch. 1955; D. Arch. (honoris causa) 1986 confered on him, and at the University of South Africa receiving a D.Litt. et Phil. 1969.

Academic Career
From 1947 to 1961 he was a Lecturer in Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1961 he moved to the University of Adelaide, South Australia taking up the post of Reader in Architecture and Town Planning until 1968 when he moved to the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, as Associate Professor. He became Professor in 1972 and in 1974 was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning. From 1974 until 1992 he was the Mary Hill Swope professor of Architecture. In 1982 he became the Director, Documentation Unit, later Architectural Heritage Research Centre, a position that he held until 1992. Since 1993 he has been Professor Emeritus at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

HERBERT’s academic career includes the following part-time and visiting appointments:
Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem: Adjunct Professor (equiv.), 1970-1972, 1976-1979
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg: Visiting Professor, 1975, 1985, 1988
University of Adelaide, South Australia: Distinguished Visiting Scholar, 1979
Universities of Sydney and New South Wales: Louis Klein Exchange Professor, 1979
University of Paraña, Curitiba, Brazil: Visiting Professor, 1980
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., USA: Visiting Scholar, 1981
University of Natal, Durban: Visiting Professor, 1993

Professional Career
He was an architect in private practice in South Africa from 1947 until 1961 and in Australia from 1961 until 1968. Significant projects include about 20 private residences in South Africa in Johannesburg, Randburg, Benoni, Roodepoort, Pretoria, Uitenhage, and in Adelaide, South Australia. He designed ‘Denhil’ office building and shops, ‘Myru House’ multi-storey factory building; ‘Cinerama’ theatre, shops and offices and as a member of STUDIO SEVEN was involved in the design of the John Moffat Building for Architecture and Fine Arts, Witwatersrand University.

He was on the Panel of Judges for Clovercrest Housing Estate, Israel Prize, Wolf Prize, Rechter Prize amongst others. He did commissioned research for the Ministry of Housing, Israel in 1972, 1978, 1984 and 1991, and for the Israel Electric Corporation in 2001.

Membership of Professional Organizations
Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects; Fellow, Royal Australian Institute of Architects Member, South African Institute of Architects; Member, Association of Architects and Engineers in Israel; Member, American Society of Architectural Historians.

Academic Honours and Research Awards
Union Government Postgraduate special award (South Africa) 1950
Sir Herbert Baker Scholar (South Africa) 1957
Myer Foundation Research Award (Australia) 1967
Architectural Writers and Critics Award (S.A. Inst. of Arch.) 1979
Graham Foundation Research Award (USA) 1981
Joseph H. Hazen Award (Israel Museum) 1982
Haifa Prize (Haifa Municipality) 1994
Award of Merit (contribution to education) (Assoc. of Arch. and Eng. in Israel) 1997
Award of Merit (contribution to research) (Assoc. of Arch. and Eng. in Israel) 1998

Publications (in books and journals)
Invited contributions to sixteen books edited by others, published in Israel, Australia,United Kingdom, Germany, United States, and Canada.
Invited contributions to several major encyclopaedias and dictionaries of art and architecture
Numerous research reports and five monographs
Over fifty papers in scholarly and professional journals published in Israel, South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Holland and Australia.

Exhibition design: for SA Medical Association, Witwatersrand University, SA Government
International exhibitions: sections based on his research: Architecture en Industrie, Centre George Pompidou, Paris 1983; Advanced Structures around the World, Syracuse University 1989; Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling, Museum of Modern Art, NY, 2008
Designer and/or academic consultant
Alexander Baerwald 1877-1930: Architect and Artist, The National Museum of Science, Planning and Technology, Haifa; Erich Mendelsohn in Palestine, shown in Israel, Germany, South Africa, Japan
Bauhaus-on-the-Carmel, shown in Israel, Italy, Japan, USA (based on my book);
First Light: Rutenberg and the Architecture of Power Stations in the 1920s and 30s, Israel Museum, 2003, Haifa Museum 2004 (based on his book)



Professor Gilbert Herbert (BArch 1947, MArch 1955, DArch honoris causa 1986), fondly known as Gil, was an outstanding architectural historian. Born in Johannesburg and educated at Parktown Boys' High School, he was a prize- winning student at Wits and on several occasions received the accolade "Scholar of the University".

On graduation he was offered a teaching post at the University, converted later that year to a full- time permanent lectureship. At the end of 1949 he received a special South African government scholarship to study systems of architectural education, and spent 1950 at the Bartlett School, the Architectural Association, the University of Liverpool, Columbia University, Harvard and the MIT. He was later awarded his Master's degree for the dissertation "Academic Education in Architecture". In 1951 he completed his studies for the postgraduate Diploma in Town Planning.

In 1969 he obtained the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy from the University of South Africa.

In Johannesburg Prof Herbert continued his academic career, while at the same time maintaining a modest architectural practice. Most of his work was residential, but two major buildings were the unique Cinerama Theatre, and – as part of a team – the John Moffat Building, which housed the School of Architecture and Fine Arts.

The most prestigious South African architectural award was the Sir Herbert Baker Scholarship, awarded every four years. Herbert was named a Baker Scholar for 1957, and was required to divide the year between Italy and England. Four months were spent in Rome, mainly at the British School at Rome, and two months exploring the architecture of Europe, from Sicily to the Channel coast.

In 1961 Herbert was offered a senior academic post at the University of Adelaide in Australia, where he spent several fruitful years. While on a sabbatical in Europe in 1966 he visited Israel and established contact with the architectural school at the Technion.

When the Herberts returned to Israel in 1968 he was offered a post at the school, which at the time was in a state of turmoil. Herbert's personality and academic distinction soon earned him the respect of his peers and in a few years he became Dean of the Faculty.

As head of the architectural school at the Technion he was a popular teacher of modern architectural history. Thousands of students enjoyed the benefit of his broad knowledge and systematic teaching. His career is studded with awards and accolades in South Africa, Australia and Israel, and generous praise from such leading figures as Walter Gropius, John Habraken, Lewis Mumford and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

When in 1997 the Technion celebrated Herbert's 50th year as a teacher and researcher, it produced a volume of his collected writings (The Search for Synthesis – The Jubilee Edition). He retired in 1993 but continued his creative output, and his tenth book was published in his 89th year. In 2015 the Faculty of Architecture at the Technion organised a public function celebrating Professor Herbert's life and achievements.

He died aged 93 in Haifa, leaving his wife Valerie (Ryan) and daughter Margaret (Margalit) Boeangiu. His son Barry died in 1977 in a car accident.

His obituary in the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal says: "Herbert's intellectual brilliance was conjoined with a warm, engaging, and affable personality, remarkable administrative and leadership skills, an indefatigable work ethic, and wisdom."

Sources: Harry Brand; Artefacts; Israelink; RIBA Journal; Family history document

Ref: WITS REVIEW, APRIL 2018, Volume 39, pg 104

(Submitted by William MARTINSON)

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

The Star Model House Competition: 1954: First Prize: 1954. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect

Books by HERBERT

Herbert, Gilbert. 1959. The Synthetic Vision of Walter Gropius. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press

Herbert, Gilbert. 1968. Martienssen and the international style : a case study in the dissemination of the modern movement in architecture. Cape Town: Unpublished PhD Thesis : University of South Africa

Herbert, Gilbert. 1975. Martienssen & the international style: The modern movement in South African architecture. Cape Town - Rotterdam: AA Balkema

Herbert, Gilbert. 1978. Pioneers of Prefabrication: the British Contribution in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press

Herbert, Gilbert. 1984. The Dream of the Factory-Made House: Walter Gropius and Konrad Wachsmann. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Herbert, Gilbert & Sosnovsky, Silvina. 1993. Bauhaus-on-the-Carmel and the Crossroads of Empire. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi

Herbert, Gilbert & Heinze-Greenberg, Ita. 1996. The Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Israel: the First Power Stations, 1921-1932. Haifa: Architectural Heritage Research Centre, (in association with the Israel Electric Corporation)

Herbert, Gilbert. 1997. The Search for Synthesis: Selected Writings on Architecture and Planning. Haifa: Architectural Heritage Research Centre

Herbert, Gilbert, Heinze-Greenberg, Ita & Sosnovsky, Silvina. 2003. In Search of Excellence: the Architecture and Building Projects of the Electric Industry in the Land of Israel, 1921-1942. Haifa: the Architectural Heritage Research Centre (in association with the Israel Electric Corporation)

Herbert, Gilbert & Richter, Liliane. 2008. Through a Clouded Glass: Mendelsohn, Wijdeveld and the Jewish Connection. Tübingen-Berlin: Wasmuth Verlag

Books citing HERBERT

Chipkin, Clive M. 2008. Johannesburg Transition - Architecture & Society 1950 - 2000. Johannesburg: STE Publishers. pp 92, 141

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 153

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 91, 186

ISAA. 1969. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1968-1969 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1968-1969. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 94, 145

Morgan, Ann Lee & Naylor, Colin. 1987 [1980]. Contemporary Architects. Chicago and London: St. James Press. pp 1035

Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. 2001. The British School at Rome : one hundred years. London: British School at Rome. pp 212

Entries in books by HERBERT

Herbert, Gilbert. HANSON, Norman Leonard. In Contemporary Architects. 1987 [1980]. St. James Press

Herbert, Gilbert . HANSON, Norman (Leonard). In Contemporary architects. 1980. Macmillan

Herbert, Gilbert . MARTIENSSEN, Rex (Distin). In Contemporary architects. 1980. Macmillan