Penelope Seidler0

Penelope Seidler1

Penelope Seidler
Seidler and Associates

Level 5, 2 Glen Street
Milsons Point NSW 2061
Penelope Seidler is an architect, accountant and patron of the arts, a member of the New York Museum of Modern Art's International Council since 1973, and a former member of the National Gallery of Australia Council. Penelope married Harry Seidler in 1958, was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Sydney and joined Seidler and Associates in 1964 as architect and financial manager.

The Seidlers long fought for progressive aesthetic values against Sydney's ingrained bureaucratic mediocrity, backing Utzon for the Opera House, preventing demolition of modern architectural heritage, and commissioning works by Le Corbusier, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder and Sol LeWitt. The Seidlers had two children, Timothy and Polly, and they lived in the Harry & Penelope Seidler House, Killara, and in the Cove Apartments, a late masterpiece built beside Grosvenor Place in central Sydney. Harry Seidler passed away in March 2006 after a long illness.

Why did you decide to become an architect?
After I married Harry I realised I would have to be able to share his passion on a more even level. I commenced in 1959.

What is your most treasured possession?
Our house.

Which is your favourite Harry Seidler building and why?
Wohnpark housing in Vienna. Its realisation gave us both enormous personal and professional satisfaction.

What books do you have on your bedside table?
Packers Lunch: A Rollicking Tale of Swiss Bank Accounts and Money Making Adventurers in the Roaring 90s, Neil Chenoweth; The Constant Gardener, John Le Carre.

Who would you like to design something for?

Strangest architectural experience?
Palazzo Spada in Rome, with built in perspective (by Borromini).

Where do you like to work on your designs?
On the terrace at home.

Your greatest extravagance?
Buying art.

Your greatest achievement?
Having a great husband for 48 years.

What is the best moment of the day?
The sip of wine at dinner.

What are you afraid of regarding the future?
The homogeneity and dumbing down of culture.

Best vista?
The Opera House and Harbour Bridge by Sydney Harbour.

Worst blight?
McMansion urban sprawl.

What project has given you the most satisfaction?
Our house at Killara.

If you could meet one person alive?
Melvin Bragg.

One artwork that inspires you is?
Guernica by Picasso.

Straight line or curved?
Curved, because life is not a straight line.

What building do you wish you had designed?
The new wing of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The greatest hero from the history of architecture?
Le Corbusier.

The dastardly villain?
Philip Johnson.

Perfect happiness is...
Doing cross stitch of Seidler buildings.

If you weren't an architect, what would you be?
An actor.

What do you think Harry Seidler's greatest contribution to Australian architecture has been?
I cannot judge.

What was Harry Seidler like to work with?

Any advice for the young?
Persevere with your dream.