Justin Samarasekera

Justin Samarasekera (21 May 1916— 3 November 2003) was a Sri Lankan architect. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the architectural profession in Sri Lanka and a pioneer of architectural education in the country.


Justin Samarasekera was born 21 May 1916 in Colombo and completed his secondary school education at Nalanda Vidyalaya, Colombo before studying architecture at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai (1938-1943). Upon his return to Sri Lanka he joined the Public Works Department (PWD) before leaving for London, where he passed his final exams. In 1946 he worked for the architectural firm, Thomas Bennettand Son, in Holborn, a prominent firm in the UK New Town Movement. He returned to Sri Lanka and continued to work at the PWD, where he was made chief architect in 1956.

In 1963 Samarasekera established his own private practice, Justin Samarasekera Associates. Samarasekera was a founding member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) and was actively involved in the establishment of the architectural course at the University of Moratuwa.

He was the first president of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served as the president of Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and the president of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka (1985-1986).

In 1982 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the SLIAand in the same year the University of Moratuwa conferred an honorary doctorate upon him, a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, the first Architect to receive such an honour. In 1996 he received the SLIA Gold Medal, the Association’s highest honour.

In 1996 following his retirement Samarasekera re-commenced painting, with exhibitions of his works being held in 1997 and 1998.

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