Tibor Donner

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Tibor Donner
Born(1907-09-19)19 September 1907
Szabadka (Subotica), Austria-Hungary (now part of Serbia)
Died11 March 1993(1993-03-11) (aged 85)

Tibor Donner (19 September 1907 – 11 March 1993) was Chief Architect for the Auckland City Council from 1947-1967.

Auckland City Council territorial authority for Auckland, New Zealand (1871-2010)

Auckland City Council was the local government authority for Auckland City, New Zealand, from 1871 to 1 November 2010, when it and Auckland's six other city and district councils were amalgamated to form the Auckland Council. It was an elected body representing the 404,658 residents of the city, which included some of the Hauraki Gulf islands, such as Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island. It was chaired by the Mayor of Auckland City.


Personal life

Tibor Karoly Donner was born in Szabadka, Austria-Hungary (now known as Subotica and part of Serbia), on 19 September 1907. He was the second child of Ladislaus Cornel Donner, an engineer, and Maria Donner née Kovats de Dalnok. He and his brother Cornel were brought up in the Lutheran faith of their father, and his sister Klara in the mother's Roman Catholic faith.

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union between 1867 and 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed when the Austrian Empire adopted a new constitution; as a result Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) were placed on equal footing. It dissolved into several new states at the end of the First World War.

Subotica City in Vojvodina, Serbia

Subotica is a city and the administrative center of the North Bačka District in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, Serbia. Formerly the largest city of Vojvodina region, contemporary Subotica is now the second largest city in the province, following the city of Novi Sad. According to the 2011 census, the city itself has a population of 97,910, while the urban area of Subotica has 105,681 inhabitants, and the population of metro area stands at 141,554 people.

Serbia Republic in Southeastern Europe

Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a country situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe in the southern Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It borders Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest. The country claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia's population numbers approximately seven million, most of whom are Orthodox Christians. Its capital, Belgrade, ranks among the oldest and largest citiеs in southeastern Europe.

The family immigrated to New Zealand in 1927 aboard the SS Rimutaka. Donner studied architecture at Auckland University College and from 1935 until 1937 worked privately in the profession. In 1938 he joined the Public Works Department. He remained with the department until 1947 when he established the architectural office at the Auckland City Council. He was the council's Chief Architect until his retirement in 1967.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Donner married Margaret Bennett in 1934. The couple had one child, a daughter also called Margaret. Tibor Donner died at Auckland on 11 March 1993, survived by his wife and his daughter. His work left an enduring legacy to the people of Auckland. [1]

Ellen Melville Centre, formerly Pioneer Women's & Ellen Melville Memorial Hall, Freyberg Square, Auckland Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Square, Auckland, New Zealand.jpg
Ellen Melville Centre, formerly Pioneer Women’s & Ellen Melville Memorial Hall, Freyberg Square, Auckland


The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial at Bastion Point Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park.jpg
The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial at Bastion Point
The Auckland City Council Administration Building Auckland City Council Main Building.jpg
The Auckland City Council Administration Building

Donner's designs incorporated styles from North and South America which were often reflective of high modernism. Although they were influenced by international architectural trends, their usage of local materials also gave them a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Notable structures by Donner include Auckland's Savage Memorial (1941), Avondale Military Hospital - later converted into the high school (1943), Khyber pump station (1947), Parnell Baths (1951–54) and the Auckland City Council's Administration Buildings (1954–60). They reflect the confidence of Auckland during its rapid expansion in the postwar era. [1]

High modernism

High modernism is a form of modernity, characterized by an unfaltering confidence in science and technology as means to reorder the social and natural world. The high modernist movement was particularly prevalent during the Cold War, especially in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Avondale College, Auckland

Avondale College is a state coeducational secondary school located in the central Auckland, New Zealand, suburb of Avondale. With a roll of 2773 students from Years 9–13, it is one of the largest schools in New Zealand.

Donner's stylistic influences are particularly evident in the Auckland City Council Administration Building. The building draws significantly from the design principles espoused by Le Corbusier. Donner had visited New York City in 1956 to study Lever House and was aware of emerging contemporary styles (such as those of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) but chose to reject them. It is significant that Donner had turned away from the more minimal contemporary style of building and the extensive use of glass, since this style is now very common in Auckland. [2]

Le Corbusier Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, and writer

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Lever House Skyscraper in New York City

Lever House is a glass-box skyscraper at 390 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Built in the International Style according to the design principles of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Completed in 1952, it was the second curtain wall skyscraper in New York City after the United Nations Secretariat Building. The 307-foot-tall (94 m) building features a courtyard and public space.

List of works

Public buildings

1937Newmarket Post Office[formerly located at 180 Broadway, Newmarket - demolished in 1999]
1941Michael Joseph Savage Memorial 36°50′44″S174°49′34″E / 36.845646°S 174.826103°E / -36.845646; 174.826103
1943Avondale Military Hospital (now Avondale College) 36°53′27″S174°41′25″E / 36.8907°S 174.6903°E / -36.8907; 174.6903
1947Khyber Pump Station 36°51′57″S174°45′41″E / 36.865759°S 174.761482°E / -36.865759; 174.761482
1951Auckland City Council Housing Developments[various locations in Freemans Bay and Parnell]
1951-54Parnell Baths 36°50′57″S174°47′29″E / 36.849247°S 174.791364°E / -36.849247; 174.791364
1953-57Vehicle Testing Station[formerly located at 285 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn - now demolished]
1954-60Administration Building (Greys Ave) 36°51′10″S174°45′43″E / 36.852844°S 174.76194°E / -36.852844; 174.76194
1958Auckland Centennial Memorial(Auckland Domain) 36°51′27″S174°46′29″E / 36.857638°S 174.774706°E / -36.857638; 174.774706
1959-61Pioneer Women’s & Ellen Melville Memorial Hall (now the Ellen Melville Centre) 36°50′52″S174°46′01″E / 36.847657°S 174.766916°E / -36.847657; 174.766916
1960-61Pt Erin Baths 36°50′20″S174°44′27″E / 36.839011°S 174.740791°E / -36.839011; 174.740791
1961-64Victoria St Parking Building 36°50′57″S174°45′59″E / 36.849038°S 174.766429°E / -36.849038; 174.766429
1966Glen Innes Public Library 36°52′45″S174°51′24″E / 36.879261°S 174.8567°E / -36.879261; 174.8567
1970Green Bay Kindergarten 36°55′49″S174°40′31″E / 36.930229°S 174.675355°E / -36.930229; 174.675355


Aside from his work for the Auckland City Council and the Public Works Department, Donner also designed several houses in the hills around Titirangi. His former house is located in Kohu Road, but he also designed several others in the surrounding area for his friends. [3]

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  1. 1 2 "'Tibor Donner' (updated 20-Dec-2012)". New Zealand History Online. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  2. Tsow, David (1 February 2013). "Skyscraper was ahead of its time". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  3. "DONNER, Tibor". Lost Property. Retrieved 18 September 2013.