Evan Walker AO, former Victorian planning minister and co-founder of Jackson Architecture, has died aged 79 and is being remembered nationally for his contribution to the Victorian urban landscape.

Expressing his condolences on behalf of the Victorian Government, Premier Daniel Andrews said Walker was a “visionary architect” who had helped shape the world’s most liveable city.

“He protected our past and planned for our future. His contribution to our state will always live on, in the structures he saved and the precincts he proposed,” Andrews told the Herald Sun.

Former premier, and Walker’s leader, John Cain also commended Walkers’ vision and work ethic, saying Walker was a “premier’s dream” because “he could do anything you gave him”.

“He had an architect’s approach. Architects are good at seeing the long term,” Cain told the HR.

Above: Evan Walker by the Southbank. Image: The Age.
1984: Evan Walker, Premier John Cain and developer Frank Woodcock with a model of the Yarra River project. Image: Herald Sun.

Walker received his Diploma of Architecture from RMIT and Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Melbourne in 1959. 

In 1963, he co-founded Daryl Jackson Evan Walker (now Jackson Architecture) before moving to Toronto Canada in 1965 to study a Master of Architecture at the University of Toronto.

On return to Australia in 1979 Walker then joined the Australian Labor Party and held a variety of portfolios in his time in office including industry, major projects and arts.

As Planning Minister in the Cain Labor Government from 1982 to 1990, Walker began the redevelopment of Melbourne’s Southbank, led the battle to install lights at the MCG and worked to preserve the views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the heritage of Collins Street.

Jackson Architecture has released a public statement, describing Walker as highly regarded by both those close to him and from both sides of politics.

“As an architect, as a politician, and as a policy maker, he has made an outstanding contribution to architecture, the environment, arts and educating in Australia.”

“More than all of this however, he was a very dear and loyal friend to Daryl and Kay and all of our family; always happy to write a personal reference or provide advice and assistance whenever required.  He will be sadly missed.”

There is talk that the pedestrian footbridge over the Yarra river at Southbank will be renamed in Walker’s honour.  Image: Herald Sun.

Since retiring from politics Walker served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Urban Design Task Force (1993-1995), Chairman of National Capital Authority (Tasmania) from 1993, and as member of Docklands Authority (1998–2005).

He also received a number of awards including the Barrett Medal of the Town and Country Planning Association (1986), Honorary Fellow of Royal Australian Institute of Planning (1987), and President’s Award of Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter (1987). In 1996 he was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).