Jack Barnett

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Jack Barnett

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Judah Jack Barnett was born on 7 December 1924 in the Booth Memorial Home in Cape Town. His early school years (1932–1937) were spent at Hillel College, in Muizenberg and then he attended Muizenberg High School (1937 – 1939). His first year at university in 1940 was spent at the University of Cape Town doing a BA in Fine Art. In 1941 he changed to B. Architecture, still at UCT, and he achieved a degree with distinction in 1946, winning the Helen Gardener travel prize.
From 1946 to 1948, he studied in America and was a design architect in the offices of Harrison and Abromowitz, New York, and Reisner and Urbahn, New York. In 1949, he was awarded the Herbert Baker scholarship and was resident at the British School in Rome. He took the opportunity to travel around Italy and other parts of Europe. In 1952, Barnett was in Israel as an architect for the South African Jewish Appeal and in November of that year he married Naomi Shapiro in Tel Aviv. He stayed on in Israel until 1954 working on projects in Ashkelon. Walter Sisulu was a house guest of the Barnett’s in 1953.
In 1955, Jack Barnett opened a private practice in Cape Town and was appointed Studio Master of the University of Cape Town’s School of Architecture for three years. He entered various architectural competitions and his designs won first place for four South African building projects : in 1956, the Welkom Civic Centre (in association with Kantorwich & Skacel) ; in 1958, the Klerksdorp Civic Centre (in association with F Lamond Sturrock) ; in 1961, the Provincial Office and Library Building at Kimberley (in association with F Lamond Sturrock) and in 1964, the Pietermaritzburg Civic Centre (in association with F Lamond Sturrock). He continued to practice as an architect in Cape Town until the 1990’s, his crowning achievement being the Baxter Theatre which opened in 1977. He was awarded the Institute of South African Architect’s (ISAA’s) Gold Medal of Honour in 1982 for an outstanding career in Architecture.
Jack Barnett was also architectural correspondent for the Cape Times from 1978 onwards and he gave various lectures on architecture at UCT and other institutions around South Africa. His other interests included reading, writing, painting, drawing, theatre; music and politics.

  • Further details of Barnett’s career are available in the collection under Personal Papers – A2.2


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