University House: celebrating 60 years

14 July 2014

University House is celebrating its 60th anniversary and has been doing so in style.

The University’s premiere accommodation and events venue has hosted visits from several distinguished guests, as well as gala dinners and locally-connected events including the Canberra truffle festival.

It has also seen the appointment of a new Master, a new menu for its flagship Boffins Restaurant, and a new website for accommodation and dining reservations.

“University House was established as a special place for meeting and celebrating,” says University House’s new Master, Professor Peter Kanowski.

“It retains that role, with a distinctive style and flair. And reflecting the era in which it was designed and built, its nuclear shelter remains the safest place on campus for those who fear that sort of catastrophe, and a great cellar.”

The concept of a University House was the brainchild of Historian Sir Keith Hancock.

The foundation stone was laid in October 1949 and the official opening by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh took place on the 16 February 1954, at the same time as the Queen inaugurated the now-adjacent Australian Academy of Science.

Established as Building No 1 on the ANU campus, University House was needed as a hall of residence for the new University’s research students, academic staff and visitors, and as a faculty club designed to create a spirit of collegiality.

It was designed by Brian Lewis, Professor of Architecture at the University of Melbourne. Like other early ANU buildings, it was furnished by Fred Ward, then Australia’s leading industrial designer.

University House’s first Master, Arthur Trendall, also became the first Deputy Vice-Chancellor of ANU.

More recently, that career direction has been reversed, with two Deputy Vice-Chancellors, John Richards and Lawrence Cram, becoming Masters.

Professor Kanowski, who took up the Master’s role on 26 May, is the 8th Master in a period during which the ANU has had 10 Chancellors and 11 Vice-Chancellors.

“As ANU and Canberra have grown, University House has evolved into a unique combination of collegiate living and boutique hotel, serving the Canberra community and visitors as well as ANU staff and students,” Operations Manager Tony Karrys says.

“Developments such as New Acton offer both competition and opportunities for University House to be a bridge between the university and that precinct.”

The House’s next major event, as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, is Truffles at Twilight, on Friday 8 August, from 5-7pm.

Chef Anshul Chandna, whose South Asian-inspired flavours have revitalised Boffins and functions menus, has created truffle canapés to partner Clonakilla wines.

To book, call 6125 5270 or email Boffins is also featuring truffle dishes throughout the six weeks of the Canberra Truffle Festival.

For more on University House, including functions, events catering and the eateries, visit their new website at

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