Scanning the nation for architectural news and noteworthy nuances.

This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting


Michael Snape’s Sydney, a tower expressing the sculptor’s fascination with letters.

Woods Bagot  has assigned  Mark Kelly  as its group design director across five countries. He’s been in-house for 12 years •  Woodhead International  has appointed a Thai interior designer,  Vipavadee Pao Patpongibul , to its board • Melbourne’s  Norman Day  has assembled for the East Timor government a team to plan rebuilding. The group includes  David Brand Steve Whitford Jim Sinatra Gerry McLaughlan  and  John Gollings . Sydney’s David Week  is among other architects who have flown up to help; he’s working with the World Bank •  Linday and Kerry Clare’s  Cotton Tree Housing at Maroochydore is included in  Ten Shades of Green , a touring exhibition of 10 ecologically cluey buildings curated by British critic Peter Buchanan  for the  Architectural League of New York . Also included are Piano, Foster and Herzog.

The  National Gallery of Australia  plans more alterations to  Colin Madigan ’s monument before the 20th anniversary in 2002. First stage candidates are  Tonkin Zulaikha Bligh Voller Nield Denton Corker Marshall , Lab with Metcalf Design Cox Jackson Swayn Peddle Thorp and  arm-rpvht . It’s been noted that the selection panel chair,  Neville Quarry , is on the  Cox  board and the  RAIA ’s panel nominee,  Lindsay Clare , works with  BVN . The gallery plans to have a larger and perhaps different jury for the second stage • There’s talk of a Cockle Bay-style leisure complex on the lake near the gallery • Three sites for possible Northbourne Avenue landmark buildings have been tagged at Wakefield Avenue, Mouat Street and Antill Street. In variations to the Territory Plan, other new buildings along Northbourne would be limited to 25m •  Colin Stewart  has unveiled concepts for a high-tech research centre ‘landmark’ at  UCanberra . The design includes an internal street, low-energy strategies, landscaping and water > The  Gunghalin Development Authority  is releasing land and approvals for 28 eco-responsive houses near the town centre. Nine are row houses – still rare in the ACT •  Romaldo Giurgola  has celebrated his 80th birthday by becoming an Australian citizen. He’s also building a substantial farm outside Canberra • Members of the National Museum of Australia construction alliance are continuing to describe as “independent” a design review panel which one of the architects,  Steve Ashton , has said he chairs and which includes two panellists,  Leon Paroissien  and Professor Michael Keniger , who have written press releases promoting the  arm-rpvht   design.

Sculptor  Michael Snape  is seeking a suitable site for his latest work,  Sydney , a 30 metre-tall tower of rusted steel with cut-out letters literally naming his home town • The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects ’ recent awards ceremony erupted into extreme audience applause when  Mike Horne  announced his inaugural President’s Award – to  UNSW  Professor  James Weirick . The institute’s top project award went to  CAB Consulting (Craig Burton)  for a waterside amphitheatre in Mosman • After telling his November Tusculum audience (including  Paul Keating ) that “I’m not a scholar”,  Peter Myers  downloaded bold lines of research disputing the Opera House fable about  Eero Saarinen  finding  Jørn Utzon ’s scheme in the jury reject pile. Myers said  Leslie Martin ,a power-broker of the British profession chosen for the jury by  USydney  Professor  Harry Ashworth , had already met and begun to admire Utzon and had the fated scheme pinned up when Saarinen arrived late. He said the reject pile story first emerged in a 1975  Zodiac article • Meanwhile,  Paul Keating  has been asked by Public Works Minister  Morris Iemma  to replace recently resigned Justice  Gerald Cripps  as lay member of the NSW Board of Architects . Keating is a brilliant architectural historian who tends to declaim that nothing good’s been done since 1810 (except Schinkel) • The Defence Department  is selling a 50ha site at Penrith for up to 1000 housing units •  National Trust  executive director  Elsa Atkin  has called for an end to government secrecy in the procument and contracting of major projects •  USydney  lecturer  Trevor Howells  has asked students to tape the reminiscences of senior architects for the State Library • The  Premier’s Department  is contemplating commercial options (perhaps a small hotel) for land beside The Mint in Macquarie Street. The National Trust  is watching heritage implications •  Walker Corporation  is being bought by  Australand , a housing developer mainly owned by the Singapore Government • A Byron Bay housing development is threatening an almost extinct native orchid and activists want government to buy back part of the land to join the Arakwai National Park • Dr  Kevin Fewster , lately head of the  National Maritime Museum  at Darling Harbour, has replaced  Terence Measham  as director of the Powerhouse  •  Engelen Moore  is among 20 international offices highlighted in an ‘emerging architects’ promotion by Britain’s  Architecture Review . However, one of its principals,  Ian Moore , has been erased from the list of Byera Hadley scholarship winners and asked to pay back his $6000 grant, after refusing to write his travel report from the early ‘90s • Lord Mayor  Frank Sartor  is hassling owners of CBD black holes to beautify their sites for the Olympics • Cronulla’s cache of Art Deco buildings is being promoted by local activist  Lyn Scaysbrook  •  Hassell  focused its Sydney Christmas drinks on a lecture by social scientist  Hugh Mackay  about the future of Australian life. Mackay said development would be affected by a new desire by many people to “reconnect with the herd” •  Richard Leplastrier  is designing a Volunteers Memorial at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair; a sandstone outcrop with a ‘wave-weathered’ underside • William Street is being improved by the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning , with the Roads and Traffic Authority  and the Sydney and South Sydney councils. Footpaths will be widened to reduce traffic flow and a pedestrian square will block the top of Forbes Street •  Kerry Chikarovski ’s Liberal Opposition has promised to scrap planning policies for aged, disabled and multi-unit housing • Two exhibitions of 20th century views and visions for Sydney opened recently:  Sydney Metropolis  at the Museum of Sydney and  City Visions  at the City Exhibition Space.

Darwin architect  David Bridgman , based at the heritage-oriented  Architects’ Studio  and researching a masters at RMIT , has won the  RAIA-Sisalation  scholarship to write a history of tropical housing • The  NT Government  is being pressured by a new group, the  Darwin Harbour Alliance , to abandon its plans for housing and freshwater dam development, as well as removal of mangroves, around the Darwin foreshores. The  DHA  wants a coastal park and its members are worried about spoiling the local fishing industry.

Hassell’s design for David Jones on North Terrace, Adelaide, with Catherine Truman’s bronze and fibre optics installation of autumn leaves, called A Way of Seeing.

Mark Thompson  of architects  TVA Partnership  has told a congress on sustainability that designers often overlook guidelines to avoid air pollution, despite the increasing frequency of illnesses like Legionnaires Disease •  Greg Norman  is designing Brisbane’s first new golf course for 30 years. The Springfield estate will include an enclave of Norman-brand prestige homes • Two complexes of fully furnished ‘campus’ apartments, packaged for purchase by the families of foreign students studying at Brisbane universities, have sold well. One is at Taringa and the other near Southbank.

The Civic Trust Awards jury has criticised the  SA Government ’s use of major projects legislation to overrule normal planning procedures – citing the Memorial Drive Leisure Centre (alienating parklands) and Glenleg’s “overpowering” Holdfast Shores. Awards for new works went to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood and the Christian Brothers College sports field in Flinders Street •  David Jones ’ new Adelaide store, with Hassell as architects, is intended to be world state of the art. The North Terrace facade will be scattered with illuminated bronze leaves by jeweller  Catherine Truman • The  Grollo  family is scaling back its ETSA apartment conversion after poor sales off the plan. Revisions will produce smaller, less expensive units but local estate agents say the Eastwood location is too “nebulous” to succeed •  Greenway Architecture  has been navigating local opposition to its proposed boarding house at Logan Street, in south-west Adelaide, for the  Multi-Agency Community Housing Association . Some locals, like fashion designers  George Gross  and  Harry Who , don’t want low-rent neighbours • Politicians are worried that Adelaide’s urban sprawl is continuing north and south despite the city’s low population growth.

Tasmania’s new Building Act is intended to sort out many “so-called builders” who have been described as “ruthless and unprofessional” •  TasBuild , the company which administers long service leave payment schemes for building workers, has resolved to apply its funds to major projects that can provide work for its beneficiaries.

Victorian developers are worried about the Labor Government’s intentions to foster regional roads and projects rather than continuing Melbourne’s major projects boom •  Lab Architecture Studio  has held a three week summer school, called  process ,to create “radical proposals” for Melbourne • The new government has announced a $15 million program to repair heritage buildings,including the State Library, the Echuca Locomotive Shed, the Royal Melbourne Zoo, the Mission to Seamen Building and the Queen Victoria Gardens at Beechworth • Melbourne’s gossip mill was firing late last year. Subject matters included  Peter Corrigan ’s persistent absence from the  RAIA  Gold Medal podium (why?) and forceful public attacks on  Leon van Schaik  by  Peter Brew  and  Wood Marsh  by  Howard Raggatt  at the launch of  Backlogue  •  Andrew Reed , a precocious architect of the 1960s and 1970s who led the regeneration of Carlton, has died, aged 57 • Although building is well under way, Federation Square appears sticky after the change of government. The budget of $124 million has doubled, according to  The Age , and there’s a government inquiry into the shards. However Lab’s  Peter Davidson  says recent meetings with Planning Minister  John Thwaites  have gone well • Two large bayside sites, at Port Melbourne and Brighton, have been acquired by  Prime Life , developers of retirement villages •  Spowers  is designing an ESD building at Carlton for the  Australian Conservation Foundation  • Nation Fender Katsalidis  is designing for  Grocon  the Eureka Tower at Southbank: 80 floors of apartments to usurp the Rialto as Australia’s tallest building

Spowers  with  Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp  won an invited competition for the  Edith Cowan University Chancellery •  Spowers  with  Jones Coulter Young  have completed new offices and 25 luxury apartments for the  John Holland Group  and the Heytesbury Gallery to house the Holmes a Court art collection. Meanwhile,  John Holland  is being considered for takeover by  Leighton  • The Art Deco Coronado Hotel in Claremont is being converted into a medical centre • Developers are being invited to tender for 45 ha in the Landcom canal-marina housing estate at Exmouth • A new village of apartments and shops in being built around the Brownes Building at Charles and Albert Streets, North Perth • Developers seem keen to lease and upgrade the hotel around the former Governor’s summer residence on Rottnest Island, built in 1864 • An eight-storey, 30-unit apartment building is proposed for the former Chellingworth Motors site next to Mount Hospital • There are opportunities for architects in a rationalisation of secondary schools to serve new demographics •  Bruce Callow  has produced a preliminary scheme for a possible new building at the West Australian Art Gallery •  Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland  has approval of its design for new Fremantle law courts 

 After a 1997 attitude survey showed strong member support for dropping the word ‘Royal’ from the  RAIA ’s name, the Institute is again polling members with a referendum to make sure that it should really go ahead. Mid-poll figures on the website were 47% in favour, 26% opposed and 27% don’t care. Despite the amazing number of apathetic voters, this appears to be a second mandate for change. The name preferred by 43 percent is simply ‘Australian Institute of Architects’ (with only 13 percent favouring ‘Australian Institute of Architecture’) • Graham Bligh  has retired from  Bligh Voller Nield  after a sterling five-year effort to fire up the Sydney HQ. Further changes of key personnel are expected in the next few months • The  RAIA  is vigorously resisting ongoing pressure by the  Productivity Commission  to abolish State Architects Acts and thus allow the activities of both architects and building designers to be regulated through trade practice and professional negligence laws. The commission is now holding a formal inquiry into the profession’s structure • The  Housing Industry Association  has described the expanding residents’ action group  Save Our Suburbs  as “militant housing snobs” •  Graham Bell , chair of the  RAIA ’s National Education Committee, has forecast in  The Australian  that there will not be enough architects to fulfill the diverse opportunities of the next 10 years • After  UTS  historian Helen Irving  showed various arches built to celebrate Federation in 1901, the  National Council for the Centenary of Federation  is encouraging Australian communities to build upates for 2001 • Proponents of a Melbourne-Darwin railway are studying two routes for Stage 1 to Brisbane (bypassing Sydney) • Cost specialists  Davis Langdon  suggest that it costs more to build apartments in Melbourne and Perth than elsewhere • It’s official (as if we don’t know): There’s an acute shortage of builders, especially brickies, at this peak of the Olympics and pre-GST boom. Many subbies are charging more than double their rates of a year ago, claims the  National Tax and Accountants Association  • Scientist  Tim Flannery , now directing the South Australian Museum, has proposed setting up a property tribunal to investigate the crimes of developers dating back 30 or 40 years – “you might just want to start with the 20 or 30 most disgusting buildings” • From July 16, the federal government will have “unprecedented powers” to overrule local council development decisions, under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act • New enrolments for architecture degrees are increasing. 



Published online: 1 Mar 2000


Architecture Australia, March 2000

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