The Don Aitken Centre (DAC) in East Perth, currently the headquarters of Main Roads Western Australia, has been included in the State Register of Heritage Places.
The building was designed and constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s while the State was in the midst of a post-war minerals boom. The building illustrates the expanding role of the State Government in the development of road-based infrastructure in the late 20th century.
Significant demographic changes were playing out as the post-war baby boomer generation moved into the suburbs and entered the workforce. The demographic shift created a greater demand for road infrastructure and office accommodation and the DAC was built to address those demands.
The inclusion of this place in the State Register recognises the architectural significance of the building, which employs the Late 20th Century International style and elements of the Brutalist style, both of which were pioneered in the post-war era and used in Perth civic buildings during that time. Other famous Perth landmark buildings which employed these styles include the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Western Australian Police Headquarters in East Perth, and the Public Transport Centre in East Perth.
The building is named after Don Aitken, Commissioner of Main Roads for 22 years. Don Aitken oversaw the installation of the first traffic lights in the State and the completion of the Mount Henry bridge in 1982.
The registration also recognises Perth artist Margaret Priest, one of the foremost figures in post-war art in WA, whose bronze sculpture can be found in the building’s foyer. The sculpture forms the basis for the Main Roads logo which is still in use today. The design of the building was by prominent Perth architectural firm Oldham, Boas, Ednie-Brown & Partners.
As stated by Heritage Minister David Templeman:
“This building marks a significant point in the history of Western Australia as we began a rapid transformation from a regional centre to a major city.
“The building captures the optimism and growth which dominated Perth in the latter half of the 20th century.
“I am pleased that we continue to recognise our more recent history, and its associated architecture. It demonstrates a new and exciting phase of our heritage.”
As stated by Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:
“The Don Aitken Centre remains a place of great importance to the State where it still houses the Main Roads Head Office operations.
“The registration is timely as Main Roads WA is currently leading our State through a new era of rapid transport infrastructure delivery.”