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Australia’s states of architecture at a glance


Roy Simpson, winner of this year’s RAIA Gold Medal, died suddenly just after he wrote is AS Hook Address, which was delivered by his widow Donne Simpson in Melbourne on April 14 >> The nature of CBDs is changing permanently from workplace to residential and tourist centres, say property and planning specialists speaking at recent Australian conferences >> Peddle Thorp executive Ron Burgess has told the Financial Review that the corporation’s 11 offices in Australia and Asia are “confusing the market”. To improve co-ordination, a new international group has been formed under Burgess in Brisbane and Sydney’s Tony Thorp >> The RAIA has supported the Sydney Opera House’s bid for a World Heritage listing, despite the federal government decision not to proceed >> Winning projects from last year’s National Architecture Awards are now on the RAIA’s Web site at http://www.raia.com.au/ >> With dwindling support from the federal government and major manufacturers, some of Australia’s 150 construction industry and professional groups will need tomerge or close down over the next five years, claims the Housing Industry Association’s managing director, Dr Ron Silberberg >> Architects stack up well among the professions for external supervision of university courses, claims lawyer Gavin Moodie in The Australian.

New South Wales

Peddle Thorp & Walker's apartment tower

Peddle Thorp & Walker‘s blighted apartment tower under construction at East Circular Quay.

Shrouded in black, the Peddle Thorp-designed tower under construction at East Circular Quay is the target of a sustained hate/demolish campaign led by Neville Gruzman and fuelled by the Sydney Morning Herald (which previously supported the scheme). Now the air is thick with complaints about this and other proposed towers on adjacent sites. Is the uproar too belated to resolve? Negotiations are in progress >> In a leap of logic, the SMH has blamed Lord Mayor Frank Sartor for ‘Sydney’s Planning Shambles’, while also proposing abolition of the Sydney City Council because it lacks power to decide metropolitan strategies. Meanwhile, at a foreshore planning seminar, Sartor criticised a slew of government-controlled waterside developments: the Glebe Island Bridge, Sydney Casino, Darling Harbour, Woolloomooloo Bay, the Cahill Expressway and (despite his council’s role in approving the scheme) East Circular Quay >> Cox Richardson and Scott Carver are competing for the Olympics multi-use arena after the team associated with Lawrence Nield dropped out >> With the Olympics now claimed to be running on time and budget, smaller facilities are being commissioned for various sites in the Labor-voting western suburbs. These include the tennis and indoor sports centres, plus shooting, cycling, softball and equestrian. Also on the agenda are two large regional parks (at Horsley Park and Rouse Hill), a major transport strategy and public art at Homebush. In the latter case, prominent artists are disheartened that, as usual, they’re being introduced to sites long after architects have done schemes >> After knockbacks from Arata Isozaki and Renzo Piano , the Museum of Contemporary Art has released a shortlist of seven architects to compete for a cinematheque on its George Street corner. MCA’s regular architect, Peddle Thorp‘s Andrew Andersons, is joined by Edmond & Corrigan, Steven Holl, Tod Williams, Kazuyo Sejima , Heikinen-Kominen and Enric Miralles >> Peddle Thorp/Andersons are also architects for a controversial 24-storey tower planned atop heritage-listed Transport House in lower Macquarie Street: said to overshadow the Botanic Gardens >> Local councils are angry that the NSW government is moving to control development of large areas of foreshore in five inner-west suburbs; reducing opportunities for public opposition to development schemes >> Melbourne designers Chris Connell and Raoul C. Hogg (Merchants of Australian Products) will show their furniture at the inaugural exhibition of the Powerhouse Museum’s new permanent gallery of contemporary design >> Hassell are the architects for a proposed (Osaka-esque) floating airport in Botany Bay >> Paris architect Philippe Robert , a specialist in recycling heritage buildings, has brokered with NSW Government Architect Chris Johnson a Peddle Thorp redesign of the Walsh Bay finger wharves: to restore the two-storey wharves for cultural, apartment and hotel uses; create a waterfront promenade behind the warehouses fronting Hickson Road, and replace the one-storey Wharves 6-7 with a new apartment building conforming with the originally proposed two-storey envelope. Heritage, community and government interests appear to support the idea but beans have not been counted and architects who missed out on selection have complained about deal-doing >> Mirvac‘s Tusculum presentation of schemes in progress for the Olympic Village at Homebush triggered a stream of criticism from Philip Thalis, one of the original competition winners dumped when developers were appointed. Among his complaints were "irresponsible" densities (not up to city textures), "conservative Canberra-style planning" and a strategy to surround the suburb with low-rise apartment blocks set apart by viewing slots. The audience’s general response to the masterplan, by Philip Graus of Cox Richardson , seemed more tolerant, but project manager Peter Cotton was urged to "lift the market" with more innovative housing aesthetics >> Lend Lease has imported Civitas, urban designers from Canada, to replan development of its CSR site at Pyrmont. Four apartment towers (15 to 21 storeys) and 100 terrace houses are proposed to replace a previously planned ‘monolith’ of 300 units >> Sculptor Ken Unsworth won the Gough Whitlam-supported competition to design the forecourt of the Elan apartment block now being built above the Kings Cross tunnel >> Prominent eastern suburbs identities, including Neville Wran and Glen-Marie Frost, are supporting a Philip Cox scheme to upgrade William Street >> The government proposes blanketing a grassy plaza over the controversial Eastern Distributor to connect the NSW Art Gallery with Woolloomooloo Bay. Activists still want the motorway buried all the way to the airport.

Australian Capital Territory

At a RAPI forum to discuss the territory’s latest strategic plan, many urbanists expressed "disillusionment, dismay and disgust" at federal lack of support for Canberra’s survival. The ACT plan is to be revised after complaints that, according to Crispin Hull of the Canberra Times: "it sides with the speculators and centralisers against the decentralisers" >> The Kingston ForeshoreDevelopment Authority has received 216 expressions for its competition to design 37 hectares of lakefront. Ken Woolley will chair the jury in May and Melbourne’s City Planner Rob Adams is also a judge >> However, the authority appears to lose its community and green conscience with the recent sacking of vocal activist Jacqui Rees from its board.

Western Australia

Perth architect Linley Lutton, in partnership with Sydney developer Roger Stroud, has commissioned The Buchan Group to design WA’s tallest apartment block: a 33-storey tower opposite Langley Park on Adelaide Street >> The Bollig family of architects and an interior designer claim to have designed developments worth more than $1 billion since the practice was founded 18 months ago >> Developer Peter Randles is building a village of ‘authentic’ Tudor oak and Roman stone cottages at Yallingup


Five architects are on the shortlist for Federation Square: Denton Corker Marshall , Ashton Raggatt McDougall , Chris Elliott (Sydney) and two London practices, The LAB and Jenny Lowe >> ARM also have a go-ahead to revise the old Stock Exchange Building at 351 Collins Street. Planning Minister Rob Maclellan has approved their gymnastics-based 33-storey tower (13 stories lower than first proposed) >> RMIT is planting trees and creating new plazas in an $8 million overhaul of its city campus, designed by Peter Elliott >> Glenn Murcutt and Bates Smart‘s Robert Bruce have completed their second collaborative development: the introductory buildings for Swinburne’s new Lilydale campus >> Melbourne’s mega casino entertainment centre, designed by Daryl Jackson, Bates Smart and Perrot Lyon Mathieson and opening about now, has been given a thumbs-down for its design by Planning Minister Rob Maclellan , who told The Age: "I don’t like it, no. I think Mussolini would have loved it". His views have been tacitly supported by architectural commentators Kim Dovey and Norman Day, who both suggest the design is an outcome of the project’s politics >> Victoria Dock has been recommended for listing on the Victorian Heritage Register; a decision is expected about now >> Although a final development for the old Herald and Weekly Times building on Flinders Street has yet to be decided by the new owners, Staged Developments Australia , its principal, David Marriner , is encouraging apartment, office and carpark refits of various nearby buildings it recently sold to other developers >> Twenty developers are shortlisted for the five Docklands precincts, with the field expected to narrow around August, when potential architects may be revealed >> Night lighting on the Roy Grounds spire of the Victorian Arts Centre did not impress RAIA past-president John Castles, who told The Age that "it still looks like a harlot’s stocking" >> Hassell are the architects for proposed new Commonwealth Law Courts above Flagstaff Station >> RMIT’s Dean of the Constructed Environment, Leon van Schaik, has hosted the first Asia Design Forum ever held in Australia, with 18 international participants including Ken Yeang, Andrea Kahn, Peter Davey and Diane Lewis >> Geelong’s waterfront is being reinvigorated with Victorian government and private funding, to include a hotel, five-storey apartment block, landscaping of Steampacket Place, a bayside promenade, a children’s adventure playground, and reconstruction of Beach Road >> City of Yarra councillor James Martakis , an architect with MHK in Richmond, has earned a $100 court fine and three-month bond for assaulting an industrial designer who was trying to hang his office shingle >> Victoria is reforming its planning laws to reduce complexities and delays >> Peddle Thorp‘s Peter Brook, speaking in defence of players’ complaints about the heat of the Victorian Tennis Centre’s courts during January’s Australian Open, said that blame should not be placed on poor design (by Peddles and Cox Richardson); the problem instead was caused by tennis rules insisting that the stadium roof could only be closed for wet weather matches >> Allom Lovell and Daryl Jackson are planning a a Museum of Immigration in the old Customs House on Flinders Street.

Gymnastic entrance for ARM's 33-storey restaurant

Gymnastic entrance for ARM’s 33-storey refurbishment of the old Melbourne Stock Exchange.


In another ‘southern’ appointment causing concern in some quarters, Denton Corker Marshall have won the commission to update Brisbane’s Southbank entertainment precinct. They will work with local architects Rob Riddel, Brian Donovan and Alice Hampson >> Robert Retchford is the architect for a $2.6 million Waltzing Matilda museum of colonial-style buildings at Winton Shire in the state’s far west >> John Gilmour has celebrated 50 years with Fulton Gilmour Trotter Moss >> Donald Spencer, struck off from the Queensland register of architects after 16 client complaints, has now been warned by the Board of Architects-which he has claimed is "a kangaroo court"-that he must not be listed as an architect in the White Pages on the Internet >> Allom Lovell Marquis-Kyle have reconstructed Richard Gailey‘s 122-year-old chapel at Scots College, Warwick >> Bligh Lobb have been commissioned by the state government to study potential for a 60,000-seat ‘super-stadium’ for the football codes in Brisbane >> Significant population increases have been recorded by the statistics Bureau in many inner-Brisbane suburbs, as well as in three suburbs on the city’s southern outskirts >> A major retail development is being discussed for a group of five properties fronting Queen, Edward and Adelaide Streets, which were recently sold to Malaysian interests >> The precinct of old shipping warehouses in a riverside triangle between Queen and Boundary Streets near Circular Quay is being touted by the Courier Mail as "the city’s new style spot" for cafés, architects, art studios and the Triple M radio station.


The Grand Chancellor Hotel at Hobart’s Sullivans Cove has offered to contribute towards a city concert hall on a site next door.

South Australia

Big projects are back on the agenda for Adelaide, with the government’s appointment of a major developments panel to fast-track approvals >> Crone (Sydney) are architects for SA’s largest development of the last 10 years: the $300 million Capital City retail, hotel and cinema complex, replacing the John Martins store with a David Jones and topped with a 200 m spire >> Hassell, Peddle Thorp and Steve Grieve are preparing a masterplan study on improving the Adelaide Festival Centre >> A $100 m redevelopment of the Central Markets is mooted >> Work has begun on upgrading Lipson Wharf, Port Adelaide, for waterfront cafés, a tavern and apartments >> Hassell‘s ‘hanging gardens’ landscape plan for Hindley Street has been widely celebrated >> Out of town, Raffen Maron’s visitor centre on the summit of Mt Lofty has won good reviews



Published online: 1 May 1997


Architecture Australia, May 1997

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