VALE Professor Peter Corrigan
From Professor Vivian Mitsogianni
Deputy Dean and Head, RMIT Architecture & Urban Design
Dear RMIT Architecture students, colleagues and friends,
It is with profound sadness that I inform you that Professor Peter Corrigan passed away on Thursday 1st December 2016.
Peter has been an active and important mentor to many of us and significant in shaping the identity of architecture in Australia, as well as for over 35 years, the identity of RMIT Architecture. Peter has been teaching in the Architecture Program at RMIT University, continuously since 1975, when Graeme Gunn, the then dean of the faculty, offered him a job “to come home to” upon his return from America. In the same year he co-founded Edmond & Corrigan with Maggie Edmond. He has received two honorary doctorates, the first in 1989 from RMIT for long standing and significant contribution to architectural theory and design and the second from the University of Melbourne in 2015. His numerous achievements and significant impact on Australian Architecture have been well documented over the years.
Peter’s design studios at RMIT are the ‘stuff of legend’ with his most recent studio completed last semester. Peter often spoke to students of having “personally tried to live a life through architecture”. This saw an active engagement in teaching, writing, exhibitions, publications, building and theatre – amongst other concerns – which were all interwoven and striving towards a cultural contribution, a contribution of ideas.
In writing about Peter’s teaching I noted that: “Through his teaching in architectural design, history, theory, and his supervision of design thesis students at RMIT, Corrigan has taught successive generations how they might prepare for an ethical life of architecture, and why, despite an awareness of architecture’s “profound limitations”, they might still strive “to build the unbuildable”. He teaches the importance of the survival of a local architectural culture (wherever that ‘local’ may happen to be) to those that will become in part responsible for its survival.” And that as “with Corrigan’s own work there is an insistence that architecture is a cultural pursuit, a part of a wider cultural sphere. What is taught are the complexities of engaging with a culture and place and the strategic and political significance of doing so.” 
The lessons in Peter’s teaching and the force of its delivery, offered hope through which students could seek visions for architecture that project beyond what is easily judged and known. They highlight that despite what we might be told, we might find strength in ‘tribal identity’ (“warts and all”); that it might be necessary to argue fiercely and passionately for what you believe, to ruffle feathers; that we might not be drowned out by the sameness of all the chatter; that we might fight for, and believe in the primacy of ideas.
The vision for RMIT Architecture is one that Peter’s teaching has directly influenced. It is a view of architecture as deeply complex, multi –dimensional and multi layered. It sees Architecture as engaging with wider cultural, social and political terrains and striving to make a direct contribution in the world. Architecture is seen as something that shouldn’t be reduced to one exploration alone and something that is important enough to argue passionately about.
If you have any notes or reflections about Peter please send them to me and I will collect them for distribution [email@example.com].
Peter will be deeply missed by all of us, but his legacy is deeply entrenched in our culture and will be furthered by the many architects – now working all over the world – that he has influenced. It will be celebrated for a very long time.
 “The laughter of liberation/the authority of vision” first published in Architecture Australia 2003 http://architectureau.com/articles/gold-medallist-1/ and with additional passages in Conrad Hamann “Cities of Hope : Remembered/Rehearsed – Australian Architecture and Stage Design by Edmond and Corrigan 1962-2012”.