10 Sep 2019

Christ’s College was always the “favourite client” of architects Warren and Mahoney, and the relationship between Old Boy Sir Miles Warren and the school remains as solid today as ever.

Sir Miles turned 90 in May 2019, celebrating with a birthday morning tea with Executive Principal Garth Wynne, where he was welcomed as a member of the Sewell Society, which recognises people who plan to leave a bequest to College. Sir Miles (5162) was in Julius House from 1942–45. He went on to become a draughtsman in Cecil Wood's studio before training as an architect and later establishing – with Maurice Mahoney – architecture firm Warren and Mahoney.

“College was our favourite client and it was always such an enjoyable process,” he said. “I think all told, seven of the buildings here were designed by Warren and Mahoney. I think there must be very few architects that work for the same client for the whole of their life. As I recall, meetings were always constructive and jolly but you had to keep your wits about you. The process we went through designing the buildings at Christ’s College was our standard selling procedure. You talked about what was required and would draw it at the same time. The process of drawing was emphasised and if a client didn’t like what they were seeing, the trick was to turn the drawing upside down and work on the back! The whole relationship between the client and the architect was direct. Now it is so complex and complicated with committees and so on – it’s a talkfest. The time, the effort and the reports necessary now are unbelievable.”

Sir Miles said the city building he was most proud of was the Christchurch Town Hall. Warren and Mahoney’s design was chosen in a competition both set and judged by architects. “We’re lucky it was restored after the earthquakes, exactly as before. I couldn’t tell the difference.”

As a schoolboy Sir Miles recalled the Headmaster in a mortarboard and gown, the corporal punishment administered by the prefects, and the “big snow”.

Sir Miles is one of the first Old Boys to be honoured by the production of a poster acknowledging his career and accomplishments. The project is organised by the CCOBA and the posters will be displayed at College.