Scanning the nation for architectural news and noteworthy nuances.

This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting


Bligh Lobb’s Sydney Olympic Stadium.

The nineties construction boom has peaked, with diminished estimates for new building activity in all cities • Organisers of the Flashpoint 99 student conference, to be held at UNSW in July, are running a national student design competition, called In the Shadow of Neon Light, for solutions to homelessness. Meanwhile, the list of international speakers—headed by Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelblau, Diller + Scofidio, Ken Yeang, James Wines and Stephen Perrella— is still expanding • The RAIA’s Built Environment Education program is running a competition for primary schoolchildren to design “a bridge to the new millennium”.

The National Capital Authority has Andrew Metcalf preparing a masterplan for the Parliamentary Triangle • ACT Land and Planning Commissioner John McInerney has declined an application from ACT Housing and TT Architecture to build a women’s refuge in Melba. His decision, released with many paragraphs inexplicably censored, says the scheme “goes beyond the simple provision of short-term accommodation” • After local protests about yellow, exterior colours for Ashton Raggatt McDougall’s National Museum at Acton have been toned down. However, the adjacent Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies will have a maroon facade.

After Labor’s election landslide, Premier Bob Carr has appointed new Ministers. Morris Iemma replaces Ron Dyer at Public Works & Services, while Andrew Refshauge follows Craig Knowles into Urban Affairs and Planning • The Bligh Lobb-designed Olympic Stadium has opened successfully at Homebush with a world-record 104,000 spectators to watch two rugby league matches in March • One of Sydney’s argest apartment developments, three 80- metre towers containing 441 units, is proposed by Hong Kong developer Sunlord for the block surrounded by Kent, Erskine, Napoleon and Sussex Streets• RAIA CEO Michael Peck has presented to the national council a five-year management strategy which will base all key managers in Melbourne or Canberra by 2005. This unpublished plan, produced after a management review by consultants, is now being debated at executive level • Woollahra conservationists are battling plans to demolish the heritage-listed childhood home of Dame Joan Sutherland. They want the deteriorated Georgian residence to become an opera museum • The two penthouses of the Renzo Piano-designed Macquarie Apartments tower have sold for $7.5 million and $6.6 million, while the 11th floor of the Bennelong apartment tower at East Circular Quay has gone for $13 million • After much resistance, BT Hotels has won City of Sydney approval to add 94 rooms to its Hotel Intercontinental on Macquarie Street, by expanding into adjacent Transport House (an A-grade, four-storey heritage landmark built in 1938). This proposal adds three floors to the back of Transport House, a reduction from the original scheme to top it with 20 storeys • Thirty emerging NSW practices have been named on a Department of Public Works & Services/RAIA shortlist for competitions to design public projects worth up to $5 million • In a Hassell-organised talk attended by Sydney’s top women architects and planners, Sue Holliday, Director General of the Department of Urban Affairs & Planning, flagged an urgent and long-term need for affordable housing across Sydney; hinting that this priority might be more crucial than moves to raise aesthetic standards •LFA Pacific, led by Lester Firth, has won the design commission for the 11ha town centre at Green Square (a new suburb being developed from 200 ha of old industrial tracts around south Sydney) • Expressive designs for a bus shelter and ribbon-embellished pylons at Railway Square—conceived by DPWS architect Margaret Petrykowski and artist Merilyn Fairskye—have raised controversy. As the ensemble nears completion, heritage architect Clive Lucas noted to The Sydney Morning Heraldthat the quality of a city square depends on its surrounding buildings [rather than any centrepiece]. Government Architect Chris Johnson urged critics to wait until the project was finished and claimed “we’re trying to pick up a sort of Times Square thing” • Developers are homing in on the Kurnell Peninsula between Botany Bay and the Port Hacking River—with plans for resorts, apartment complexes and an industrial park • JPR Architects has joined three groups of entrepreneurs in an alliance called Business Architecture Australia which believes it can profit from emphasising its skills in non-design services as well as design • DUAP’s urban design advisory service has prepared a new urbanist scheme for the Prince Henry Hospital site on Sydney’s southern coast • Harry Seidler has been awarded an honorary doctorate by UNSW. Meanwhile, Stage 1 of his multi-tower housing precinct in Vienna is complete but there’s talk of demolishing his first commissioned building in Sydney; a 1948 house for the Waks carpet family at Northbridge • The state government and South Sydney Council have found $100,000 to fund a study into the future of William Street as a “boulevard” • Various architects have criticised Lord Mayor Frank Sartor’s proposal to include in Sydney’s local environment plan new criteria seeking “design excellence” from schemes submitted for approval. Extra points would go to developers who either held a design competition or used architects recognised for good design. Critics of this ‘elitism’ include Philip Cox, Hassell’s Ken Maher and Saunders Design • SJPH is fitting out four underground stations along the 10km Airport Link rail line between Mascot and the city • The NSW Board of Architects has added an undergraduate category to its $65,000 annual program of Byera Hadley travelling scholarships. Meanwhile, it is still lacking reports promised by some tardy winners from years ago •Allen Jack + Cottier has established a heritage wing • The City of Sydney’s Cook and Phillip Parks swimming pool (between St Mary’s Cathedral and the Australian Museum) is nearly finished. The Spackman Mossop-Lawrence Nield scheme is signalled by skillions thrusting above the underground complex.

Brisbane City Council’s new town plan eases restrictions on dual occupancy and working from home but gets tough on heavy industry and new housing estates. It also bans new places of employment in areas lacking public transport • At the Asia Pacific Summit for business and property executives, former Prime Minister Paul Keating called for more careful city planning, by planners not developers, and spoke in favour of Paris’ “six storeys and one material” as a successful strategy • Plans are going ahead for a cruise ship terminal and small craft boat harbour at Hamilton Quay (Breakfast Creek)—with an associated hotel, aquarium, large-screen theatre and amusement centre • Capricorn Wharf, Brisbane’s wartime submarine base at New Farm, is being developed as a “millionaires’ row’ residential complex, with a public boardwalk along the river • The state government and Brisbane City Council are getting serious about a new tourist park and cultural centre at the Roma Street railyards. The scheme, to be called Millennium Gardens, would be linked by light rail to South Brisbane and Fortitude Valley.

Adelaide City Council staff have approved (on delegated authority) plans by the Futuris Corporation for an 18-storey hotel behind its heritage-listed Elders building in Currie Street. Woods Bagot are the architects • Despite opposition, Geof Nairn has won Adelaide council approval for his “silver spaceship” student housing at St Ann’s College in Melbourne Street. The scheme involves demolishing two old cottages which the council wanted retained and restored • UniAdelaide super dean Judith Brine (she is not at UniSA as we claimed in AA Jan/Feb) is now on the Adelaide City Council.



The new visitor centre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, designed by Philp Lighton with Daryl Jackson.

The Hobart City Council is finally building its long-mooted civic square, to be known as Maritime Place, at Constitution Dock. Lord Mayor John Freeman hopes to use a Westpac-donated Stephen Walker sculpture called Tidal Pools(formerly installed outside the bank’s HQ in Sydney’s Martin Place) as the centrepiece. There are also plans to dock the historic ship May Queenand fishing boat Matildaand install a tourist tram line • Hobart architect Bevan Rees has been promoting the importance of history in planning new developments. Speakers at his March seminar Millstone to Touchstone: The Business of Place in Tasmaniaincluded Launceston Mayor John Lees, the Premier’s policy advisor, Kate Kent, urban designer Leigh Woolley and historian Henry Reynolds • Philp Lighton have completed a visitors’ centre at Port Arthur, with Melbourne’s Daryl Jackson supervising the scheme on behalf of the Australian Heritage Commission. The new building is much larger than existing structures on the site, but has been reduced in scale by articulating the long facades.

Stephen O’Connor (a Harvard-educated Melburnian) and Annick Houle (Harvard American) have won the competition to masterplan a fusion between the Heide art park and adjacent Banksia Park at Bulleen. Amazingly, their scheme has been praised by rival finalists • The Victorian government has produced a draft policy for the shores of Port Phillip Bay. Its document Gateway to the Baysupports high-rise, piers and recreation facilities along the Port Melbourne waterfront and high-rise for the St Kilda triangle including the Esplanade Hotel, Palace entertainment complex and Pier • Most of the 250 apartments in the Nonda Katsalidis-designed HM@S Beach development at Port Melbourne were sold on launch day—appearing to leave the dramatically projecting sales pavilion almost redundant • Although Denton Corker Marshall’s Adelphi is on the market, Melbourne is anticipating several new boutique hotels. The Park Hyatt, near Fitzroy Gardens, will be the most opulent (with leather-padded corridors to guest suites), while the Lindrum in Flinders Street and Prince of Wales at St Kilda are targeted to groovers • Subsidence caused by City Link tunnelling is requiring repairs to the Swan Street Bridge and permanent “recharging” of ground water around the tunnels at 100 million litres every year • Organisers of Melbourne’s Fringe Festival are calling for architectural “fragments”, exhibits and installations: email fringe@vicnet.net.au • Chaotic elections for the Melbourne City Council have produced a surprise Lord Mayor, journalist Peter Costigan,amid predictions that the lineup of councillors is unworkable • The world’s biggest Buddhist shrine—a replica of the Gyantse stupa in Tibet—is to be built at Bendigo to an elaborate concrete and steel design by architect Peter Weiss, who describes his scheme as “nowhere near as complicated as the Sydney Opera House” • The Australian Conservation Foundation is seeking architects for its $4 million sustainable HQ in Carlton • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is expanding criteria for its accelerated appeal hearings to include large residential schemes and projects worth more than $5 million (rather than the previous $10 million minimum) • Planning Minister Rob Maclellan is confining a review of The Good Design Guide, despite calls for a complete overhaul • The Docklands Authority has suddenly cancelled Grocon’s permission to build the world’s tallest tower at Batmans Hill: citing a $15 million financial disagreement • Victoria has still not closed a legal loophole which allows unscrupulous private surveyors to issue building permits for developments contrary to council-issued DAs • Expatriate thespian Barrie Humphries has claimed that Collins Street has been “buggered” by new developments • RAIA Victorian president Jamie Learmonth has criticised facadism, citing the period front of a Flinders Street carpark • RAIA Archicentre is continuing a home inspection service intended to improve safety for senior citizens and disabled people • The residents action group Save Our Suburbs has celebrated its first anniversary with a claim by president Jack Hammon that “the government waits until this noise gets loud enough and then moves a millimetre” • The City Edgeconference on ‘Private Development vs the Public Realm’, with speakers from Berlin and Barcelona, attracted high-level planning strategists from around the country.

Alarmed by the confusion and inertia of Perth’s development scene, the Property Council has proposed a capital city coordinating committee (CCCC) to be formed by the WA Planning Commission and to include the Lord Mayor, CEOs of the Tourism Commission, Government Property Office and Property Council. This idea contradicts demands from the new Inner City Housing Development Association (including RAIA WA president Nigel Shaw) for a major developments authority independent of both the state government and city council • New owners of Fremantle’s woolstores are planning to convert them into a hotel and apartment/office development • Residents near Cockburn Sound have built a monumental ‘Save Our Sound’ sign along 50 metres of limestone cliffs in a nature reserve expected to be rezoned for redevelopment of Jervoise Bay. The Labor Opposition has decided not to join the Greens in opposing the Liberal government’s pro-development stance • Most of Australia’s leading developers have expressed interest in building a convention and exhibition complex (and other facilities) on a Perth site yet to be decided • Landcorp is beginning to buy land at Breton Bay, 120 km north of Perth, to kick-start a potential industrial precinct near an existing power station • More than 70 architects participated in WA RAIA workshops to discuss the profession’s future in light of moves to abolish Architects Acts. Numerous complaints and suggestions are listed in a two-part series in the Chapter journal, WA Architect • Neville Peterkin, a Curtin third-year, won last year’s student competition to design the Murdoch Environmental Technology Display Centre, based on an existing prefab classroom.

Australian scholars Jennifer Taylor, Neville Quarry, Phillip Drew and Andrew Metcalf are contributors to a Kenneth Frampton-edited dictionary of the 20th century’s greatest buildings, to be published at the UIA Congress in Beijing this year • Lend Lease has opened the world’s largest shopping centre, Bluewater at Dartford in Kent—320 shops arranged over 226,000 sq metres— and the company now plans to develop housing and light industrial estates nearby • Melbourne architects Brearley Middleton beat Chinese, American and French architects to design a major conference-oriented precinct in Xiamen, China. One focus of the scheme is a people’s plaza three times the size of Federation Square • Singapore has opened Asia’s largest exhibition centre, designed by Cox.



Published online: 1 May 1999


Architecture Australia, May 1999

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