The papers in MS 9863 comprise correspondence, plans, drawings, reports and photographs, the majority of which were produced by Colin Madigan in the pursuit of his architectural work. The drawings and plans are from all periods of Madigan's creative life including his earliest student drawings. Some of Madigan's most important architectural projects are well documented in the papers, particularly his work on the National Gallery of Australia. The only material not related to Madigan's architectural work is the series covering his war service and the sinking of the HMAS Armidale in 1942. Within the plans series (Series 8) there are also a number of drawings and plans produced by Frederick Madigan, Colin Madigan's father. Correspondence and other papers relating to a proposed biography of Madigan by Geoffrey Serle belong to Series 13 (27 boxes, 16 fol. boxes, 7 phase boxes, 1 fol. packet, 7 elephant folios).
Architect. Colin Frederick Madigan was born in Glen Innes, New South Wales, in 1921. His father, Frederick John Madigan, also an architect, had a practice in Inverell at which Madigan began working as an assistant at 14 years of age. Madigan began studying architecture at Sydney Technical College in 1939. However, he interrupted his studies during the Second World War by enlisting in the Royal Australian Navy, in which he served until 1946. In December 1942, he survived for ten days in open seas after the sinking by Japanese military forces of his ship HMAS Armidale. Madigan qualified as an architect in 1950 and, in 1954, became a principal within the architectural firm of Edwards Madigan Torzillo, later named Edwards Madigan Torzillo Briggs International or EMTBI.
Madigan designed a number of houses, but worked between 1950 and 1967 predominately on a range of public buildings including libraries and colleges. The major projects he worked on, completed between 1968 and 1982, were the National Gallery of Australia and the High Court of Australia, both of which are in the parliamentary zone of Canberra. Madigan commenced work on the High Court of Australia after its designer Christopher Kringas (of Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs) died in March 1975, just prior to the start of construction in April 1975.
Working on these two buildings, Madigan became particularly interested and involved in the planning and design of the entire parliamentary zone. In the 1980s he was a finalist in the Parliament House competition and worked on a Parliamentary Zone Development Plan. From 1982 he also served on the National Capital Planning Committee and lectured and corresponded widely on the subject of Canberra. Madigan won a number of architectural awards, including the Sulman prize for 1966 and 1970, and was RAIA Gold Medallist in 1981. After declining a CBE, he was created an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1984.