Industry news in concise cuts.
ABC Radio National has introduced a new Saturday morning program, The Comfort Zone, to celebrate architecture, design, gardening, food and travel • Recent RAIA Council resolutions include a policy that other designers should be licensed under laws separate to Architects Acts, withdrawing from the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, introducing a state tier in judging of the International Award, revising the national committee system, confirming ‘Thru the Barrier’ as the theme of the 1998 Cairns convention and adopting an ambitious heritage policy which includes maintaining a register of excellent architecture and “supporting” a national database on the history of Australian architecture • After a disastrous year in which it lost an estimated $60 million and was first dropped from the Olympic Village shortlist, New Zealand’s Fletcher Construction has quit tendering in Australia to focus on project management :
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Is Canberra dying? Prime Minister John Howard won’t live in the Lodge, retrenched public servants are moving to other states, property prices have crashed yet new subdivisions continue and planners can’t agree on strategies (centralisation versus decentralisation). No wonder Chief Minister Kate Carnell is accused of donating public assets to private enterprises such as Super League. The new ACT Strategic Plan (not yet accepted by the Commonwealth or community) is claimed by The Canberra Times to be too speculator-friendly while upsetting lifestyles. Positives could be a very fast train to Sydney (then Melbourne?) and interest by high-tech firms in relocating near the federal government market • Schemes for a supermarket at Manuka have been publicly displayed by the ACT Department of Urban Services after pressure from local groups • The British High Commission has had an $8 million refit • The Commonwealth is going ahead with a National Museum of Australia, incorporating a Gallery of Aboriginal Australia and the Institute of Aboriginal and Islander Studies, on a lakefront site at Acton. The architecture is promised to be “non-monumental” but the architect is not yet announced. Another design competition?
NEW SOUTH WALES
Peddle Thorp-and-team’s winning masterplan for the Olympic Village at Homebush, Sydney.
At the Olympics: Minister-in-charge Michael Knight has released another round of tender results plus flythroughs of the Hargreaves Associates design for the boulevard-turned-plaza and public areas (to be documented by Denton Corker Marshall ), as well as Hassell ‘s railway station. Stage 1 of Millennium Park was also won by Hassell , with Peter Walker ( George Hargreaves ‘ mentor at Harvard) and Bruce Mackenzie . Archery goes to Peter Stutchbury , while Tonkin Zulaikha and Hassell are the architects in a team preparing design codes for ‘gutsy’ street accessories and paving • Philippe Robert , architect for notable recycling projects in France, has been flown to Sydney to rescue negotiations to rejuvenate Walsh Bay. The developers wanted to demolish and rebuild two historic finger wharves with extensive pile decay but he got support for a different idea yet to be revealed • John Ruble and Buzz Youdell , Santa Monica-based partners of the late Charles Moore , are designing a tract of housing at Pyrmont for Lend Lease • Environmental activist Michael Mobbs recently welcomed Premier Bob Carr and a large entourage to his small city terrace for the televised launch of “Sydney’s first sustainable house”-which includes waste and water recycling under the back deck and a reed-filled purifying pond as the garden. Architect Peter-John Cantrill advised on the design • Architects DCI International (once Davenport Campbell ) are becoming hotel entrepreneurs with architects in-house • Fox Studios ‘ DA for the Moore Park showground includes 16 cinemas, a multi-storey car park and bus terminal, relandscaping the show ring and demolition of old buildings around it (apart from the Clocktower stand), plus numerous new sound stages, special effects studios, offices, shops, restaurants and studio tour facilities • In a closed meeting, South Sydney City Council agreed to invite outdoor sign companies to tender for a pedestrian bridge across William Street; a move that horrifies urbanists • Sydney Morning Herald articles by Neville Gruzman and Anne Susskind have triggered a flood of readers’ letters wanting the city council and government to buy out developers of bulky hotel and apartment blocks at East Circular Quay. Many support extra taxes to protect views of the Opera House and restore a long-lost vision of the Botanic Gardens from Circular Quay-which recently reappeared after demolition of some even-higher old buildings on the site. Architects for this touchy project are Peddle Thorp • Public Works and Roads Minister Carl Scully appears responsive to placing part of the proposed eastern distributor underground to avoid separating Wolloomooloo from the city. But what distance of tunnel can be afforded? • Property groups are not happy with Lord Mayor Frank Sartor ‘s people-city policies to encourage apartment living-apparently fearing that a growing community of CBD residents will cramp future developments • Grollo has approval to develop the GPO with two towers (a hotel and offices) set back from the James Barnet facade. Buchan Group designed the towers and Clive Lucas Stapleton are the heritage architects • Community consultation specialist Chip Kaufman told the RAIA ‘s new urbanism conference that architects should design density better so tighter developments may be accepted by suspicious communities • The government will soon call submissions to develop parcels of the Central Railway precinct; with new buildings over the tracks • Walker Corp has approval for a boat harbour and marina at Shellharbour on the south coast • Bill Tsakalos has become Sydney council’s head of City Projects • A newly discovered deposit of yellowblock sandstone, needed to repair heritage buildings, will be excavated from government land intended for the eastern distributor • Newcastle’s $40 million building surge is attracting more developers, says a city council that’s also threatened by BHP ‘s potential departure from the city • The government is to build a 3km underground extension of the city-Bondi Junction railway, to terminate near the beach • The latest proposed rescue of Luna Park would remove the Big Dipper but retain the face, Coney Island, carousel and ferris wheel while adding restaurants, tourist shops and facilities for (now illegal) functions • In a report to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning , which is reviewing its progress on developing Pyrmont peninsula, Sydney council has been scathing about over-generous population estimates, building heights and bulks, and clashing urban grains • The RAIA , the British Council and the NSW Historic Houses Trust are organising a November architecture festival, called Nexus , to celebrate links between Britain and Australia.
Hobart’s waterfront-Sullivans Cove-is being transformed by several mixed developments. A cruise ship terminal, hotel and conference centre is planned for Princes Wharves 1 and 2; Sydney architect/developer John Lewis is still at work on a residential, retail and marina conversion of Elizabeth Street Wharf, and Hobert investor John Fuglsang is building 76 apartments, shops, offices and a car park at Salamanca Place, adding to another nearby development, called Salamanca Mews, of 50 apartments • Hobart’s improved city mall, on axis from the port to the estuary, has received a positive reaction; Robert Morris-Nunn designed the iconic canopy with engineer Jim Gandy .
Cox Rayner’s design for the Sky Point telecommunications spire at Mt Coot-ha, Brisbane
Responding to John Mainwaring ‘s RAIA Robin Boyd Award, Brisbane’s Courier Mail has announced that Queensland’s architect-designed houses are “the best in the country”. Grace Garlick wrote: “the evidence [RAIA awards] is overwhelming although some southern critics still have trouble recognising the continuing excellence as anything but a fluke” • Meanwhile, one RAIA award winner, Paul Wallace (66) of Bribie Island, has retired to paint • Is Brisbane ready for inner-city living? An investor-led apartment boom isn’t generating rewarding rentals•Respondents to the Queensland Cultural Centre trust’s aborted call for expressions on its Southbank expansion have been advised that the centre’s original architect, Robin Gibson , will prepare a development strategy due to Cabinet in May • Queensland’s triple-A credit rating is being touted as a ‘competitive advantage’ in developing infrastructure with or without the private sector. But QUT economist Michael Lindfield has blasted government inaction on so far • In a Courier Mail overview of Queensland’s “frontier” development scene, ABC TV reporter David Margan suggested that Ministers “who dabble in land speculation” should absent themselves from Cabinet discussions on coming changes to planning laws • Brisbane City Council has proposed amendments to its Mt Coot-ha plan to suit the Cox Rayner design for SkyPoint, a controversial 215-metre telecommunications spire with tourist facilities; tagged for the old National Transmission Agency site • Ipswich City Council is seeking a change to the planning laws to allow DAs and BAs by email • The RAIA is among 11 groups which have promised Housing Minister Ray Connor to resolve differences over Arthur Scurr ‘s 99 proposals to reform the construction industry.
Around 20 groups are shortlisted from 250 submissions for developing five of (currently) seven precincts of the estimated $2 billion Docklands rejuvenation-masterplanned by Ashton Raggatt McDougall -and deals are expected to be announced mid-year. Daryl Jackson has already designed the stadium. Leonie Sandercock , Professor of Urban Design at RMIT, has criticised a lack of public involvement in the planning process but Docklands Authority head John Tabart says some confidentiality is necessary to protect “developer A from developer B.” Tabart has also noted that “we’re not talking about a big bang scenario here … we are talking about 15 years minimum for a light covering and perhaps 25 to 50 years for full development of the site.” There is also concern at the government’s intention to avoid environment reports. Other issues raised at an RMIT forum included the need for some public housing, ‘village’ facilities like a library, town hall and school; provision for a variety of boats, a maritime museum, and a tram line from Spencer Street; contamination of the site and the potential for Docklands retail to kill the CBD • In a move that has raised eyebrows and appears to contradict a bipartisan majority of politicians, Premier Jeff Kennett has abruptly dumped his idea to complete Parliament House according to its original design. Apparently Labor opponents declined to support his move to create a quarry in the Dandenongs to supply this project • Reported breaches of planning permits have doubled in the two years since the building industry was deregulated • After surveying more than 10,000 pedestrians in three Australian cities and Copenhagen, Professor David Yencken of UMelbourne has announced that most people want less traffic in city streets and more, better, pedestrian areas. He also found that people who travel to city centres by public transport spend more than drivers • Mirvac is developing another dense tract of houses at Beacon Cove, a wasteland next to the Hobart ferry terminal at Port Melbourne. This project is influencing Mirvac’s scheme for Sydney’s Olympic Village • After noting queues to buy Melbourne city apartments off the plan, Planning Minister Rob Maclellan has been claiming that ‘“every day another Queenslander buys a Melbourne apartment” • Maybe the re-election of Bernard Dowigo as President of Nauru, after being voted out 12 months ago, will trigger a restart on at least one of the Pacific Island’s halted Melbourne developments: the ARM -designed towers for the Carlton United Breweries site at the top of Swanston Street • A jury of seven will judge the Federation Square competition: the architects are Neville Quarry (chair), Daniel Libeskind and Rob Adams • Developer David Marriner is clear to go on a 250-room hotel redevelopment of DCM -designed City Square • Robert Peck van Hartel Trethowan are architects for an eight-building scheme at Collins and Elizabeth Streets, including a hotel and conversions of adjacent historic buildings for complementary uses • Neighbours are upset at the government’s approval of a scheme to fill the Niddrie Quarry pit (which provided bluestone until 1976) with contaminated waste from projects like Docklands and City Link; as a preliminary to a residential/park “rehabilitation” • Some St Kilda Road office buildings are being converted into apartments
Controversy continues about a plan to build a wine museum at Hackney; not close to Adelaide’s principal vineyards • The Advertiser has corrected a mistaken note that Geof Nairn took six years to design his well-known bus shelter; “in fact it was 10 man-days”.
The WA government’s new Perth planning strategy-assuming another 700,000 residents by 2030-has been criticised for negligence on sustainability and public health issues • Parry and Rosenthal are architects for a $20 million heritage redevelopment of East Perth’s Grosvenor Hotel • Civil & Civic is replacing the facade of one of its early 80s Perth office buildings-197 St George’s Terrace, which houses the Premiers Department and several ministers’ offices • Perth City Council has voted against its staff’s recommendation to spend (with the state government) $300,000 to revamp Queen Street; councillors say the idea’s premature.