Designed by architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop who were both World War I veterans, the Shrine is in a classical style, being based on the Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus and the Parthenon in Athens. The crowning element at the top of the memorial's ziggurat roof references the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.
Built from Tynonggranite, the Shrine originally consisted only of the central sanctuary surrounded by the ambulatory. The sanctuary contains the marble Stone of Remembrance, upon which is engraved the words "Greater love hath no man". Once a year, on 11 November at 11 a.m. (Remembrance Day), a ray of sunlight shines through an aperture in the roof to light up the word "Love" in the inscription. Beneath the sanctuary lies the crypt, which contains a bronze statue of a soldier father and son, and panels listing every unit of the Australian Imperial Force.
Dame Margaret BlackwoodDBE (26 April 1909 – 1 June 1986) was an Australian botanist and geneticist. She attended the University of Melbourne and lectured there for the majority of her career, becoming deputy chancellor after her academic retirement. She enrolled at the University in 1934 and studied part-time, completing a Bachelor of Science in 1938 and a Master of Science in botany in 1939. Her postgraduate research focused on dieback in the pine species Pinus radiata. From 1939 until 1941, she was a research scholar and demonstrator at the University in the field of plant cytology and genetics. During the Second World War, she enrolled in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) in 1941. She was initially a drill instructor before working on the creation of a cipher for the Royal Australian Air Force. Blackwood returned to the University of Melbourne upon her discharge from the WAAAF in 1946 as a biology lecturer and dean of women. Soon afterwards, she was awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge's Newnham College from 1948 to 1950. There, she studied the genetics of maize with David Catcheside and received a doctorate for her work in 1954. She returned to the University of Melbourne in 1951 as a senior lecturer in botany and was later promoted to reader (professor). Following her retirement in 1974, she was elected to the council of the University in 1976 and became its first female deputy chancellor in 1980.