Dr Carol Cosgrove (PhD in Architecture 2014)

Supervisors: Christine Garnaut and Judith Brine

Thesis title: The architectural practice as a professional service firm: HASSELL

This thesis examines the growth and development of the architectural practice, in particular the South Australian practice HASSELL, in a historical and organisational context. Using literature on organisations and architectural history, as well as archival material and interviews with selected individuals, it considers the practice’s characteristics as a professional service firm. This type of organisation, first identified in the organisational literature in the 1980s, emerged during the nineteenth century and was at the forefront of economic growth by the end of the twentieth century. Although it attracted little attention among researchers until the 1990s, it has recently become a subject of scholarly interest. The thesis examines HASSELL’s organisational strategies to determine their relationship to the attributes of the professional service firm as defined in the literature. It includes case studies of some of the practice’s significant early buildings in which these strategies are considered from three organisational perspectives: as a service organisation, a professional organisation, and a creative organisation. It concludes that HASSELL serves as a model of the architectural practice as a professional service firm in the twentieth century.

Carol Cosgrove’s research was generously supported by a PhD scholarship offered by HASSELL through the Architecture Museum. The project was guided by a Reference Group which included representatives of HASSELL. HASSELL is a planning and design company with its origins in architecture. The practice commenced operations in Adelaide in the late 1930s and has now grown to an international organisation employing 800 people in Australia, China and South East Asia. From the beginning its design values have been unmistakably modernist.

Cosgrove, C. (2012) ‘Modernism and survival strategies: HASSELL's Architecture in the Twentieth Century’, 11th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference, University of Western Australia, Perth, pp.78-96.