Slices of the architectural action around Australia.
José Rafael Moneo has won the 1996 Pritzker Prize >> NSW architect Ian Bailey's design for a pack-flat outdoor sofa is earning notice at Japanese furniture fairs >> Australia's vacant pavilion in the Venice Biennale gardens now houses an architectural photography exhibition. And despite our absence from this intermittent international festival, Glenn Murcutt and Peter Wilson represent us in the phone book-thick catalogue.
Australian Capital Territory
The NCPA has dropped 'Planning' from its title and is now known as the National Capital Authority >> Public submissions are being invited by a Canberra community group, The Planning Team, for self-funding development of the Kingston lake shore.
Architects who submitted expressions to masterplan the QCC 2000 expansion of the Queensland Cultural Centre at Southbank have been told that the decision is delayed. Deputy Premier and Arts Minister Joan Sheldon interrupted the selection process after hearing a complaint by the centre's original architect, Robin Gibson, (who did not enter) that his commission remains current. This apparently contradicts written assurances to the RAIA (which endorsed the open selection system) from the Department of Public Works and Housing and the centre trust, that no commissions were relevant to the proposed new works on an adjacent site. Entrants now on the backburner include overseas luminaries Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki and Oriel Bohigas, plus notable locals >> At the Master Builders' Association conference in Cairns, Dennis Corker, chair of Rider Hunt, called for an overhaul of the tender system recommending that the number of tenderers be confined to no more than five in a two-stage process where only outlines and estimates would be offered at first, then arrangements finalised in a two-team battle >> Queensland's Local Government Minister, Di McCauley, is sponsoring radical revisions to planning laws, including provisions to deem DAs approved after a specified time with any council >> The Brisbane City Council has listed over 100 heritage structures on a 'character buildings' register for Fortitude Valley.
More volcanic activity over UTasmania's moves to combine its architecture and urban design courses in Launcestonleaving Hobart professionals without academic attachments. Vice Chancellor Don McNicol and Dean John Webster say that amalgamation is likely because of federal funding cutsand "for strategic reasons", the city should be Launceston. RAIA Chapter President John Howard suggests that architecture is only in Launceston as a "high profile course" necessary for that campus to survive; he hopes at least to see architecture's final two years in Hobart. Meanwhile, Architecture Australia has received emails from Rob Haakmeester, a Launceston student bemused by the profession's sudden emphasis on links with the Academy: he says practitioners have rarely been seen at the Launceston school, yet its course has never seemed to risk being disaccredited.
Another exclamation on the RMIT campus: Building 94 (housing a TAFE centre for design) by Allan Powell/Pels Innes Nielson Kosloff.
The 25th anniversary of Robin Boyd's death was noted on October 16 >> Metier 3 and Milan-based Mario Bellini have won the $80 million commission to redevelop the National Gallery of Victoria. M3 is also designing an $8.5 million facelift to Australia's tallest building, the Rialto >> Junior architecture students at Deakin have exhibited proposals to invigorate Geelong's emerging café and arts precinct. Their ideas, supported by the city council, include an underground cinema and a rooftop performance venue >> The state government is receiving cautious applause for its new transport strategy, which identifies seven principal traffic corridors for Melbourne, and proposes upgrading the Spencer and Flinders Street stations and amalgamating the Departments of Transport and Roads and Ports with Local Government and Planning as a super-department of infrastructure >> Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan, architects for recent revisions to the Regent Theatre, have been selected to submit a design for the uncompleted dome of the Victorian Parliament House; a Jeff Kennett idea to go ahead if affordable >> Carey Lyon and his old firm Perrott Lyon Mathieson have won the latest commission in RMIT's suite of Swanston Street buildings; this one's a sports centre opposite Building 8. Also, the Allan Powell/PINK-designed Building 94 (centre for design) has openedaround the same time as Graeme Gunn (forever remembered as the first architect for innovative 1970s project home entrepreneurs, Merchant Builders) received an honorary Doctor of Architecture >> An Australian Securities Commission report on insolvent companies found that bankrupt builders accounted for 45 percent of 'phoenix' activity among small-to-medium Australian companiescosting the economy $1.3 billion annuallyand concluded that the building industry is incapable of regulating its own affairs >> Australia's first Sthapatya-Ved housing development40 dwellings designed on traditional Indian principles of orientation, proportions and placementis being built at Bundoora.
Signs of development life in Adelaide: Hassells are designing a $14 million Centre for Performing Arts in Light Square; Elizabeth's city centre is to have a virtual reality, cinema and retail complex and the state government is pursuing its Adelaide 21 city centre strategy, which proposes emphasising the city's different precincts, encouraging foreign students into new apartments along North Terrace, and developing landmarks.
New South Wales
From the State Library of NSW archives, an inked elevation drawing by Victorian architect John Horbury Hunt for a house at Armidale.
NSW Olympic Minister Michael Knight has become Chair of the Sydney Olympic Games Organising Committee (SOCOG)a move which looks like a serious response to concerns that major projects are lagging and the time limit is looming >> The government no longer plans the Olympic velodrome at Homebush Bay and has invited five outer-west councils to submit offers to have it in their districts >> The State Librarybacked by the NSW RAIAhas established a fundraising group, Foundations for Architecture, to support conservation of its architectural archives, including drawings by John Verge, Edmund Blacket, John Horbury Hunt and Jørn Utzon. The venture was motivated by Sydney architect Jennifer Hill after her recent, Nancy Keesing Scholarship-funded studies of the archive. A sponsor is being sought to pay a curator >> The federal government has failed to submit a Joan Domicelj-assembled application for a World Heritage listing for the Sydney Opera House: apparently concerned not to become legally responsible for a site currently administered by the NSW state government, or to become a target for Utzon supporters who regularly ask for his interior scheme to be realised >> Muffling protests over demolition of the long-vacant State Office Blockan early Ken Woolley iconLend Lease has commissioned Renzo Piano to design two replacement towers >> Fresh activity around the dowdy King/George intersection: there's been drawing-board tinkering with trellises to resolve a palatable new face for the John Andrews-designed American Express building; Denton Corker Marshall is drafting an office building to be partly poised above heritage buildings on the ANZ Bank site, and construction is under way on a Mitchell/ Giurgola & Thorp tower at 400 George Street >> Cox Richardson Taylor is scheming improvements to William Street >> Sydney's Harry Sprintz is educating delegates at a conference in Dubai about architecture for disabled people >> Cox Hillier's casino (with John Richardson now fronting in publicity) is rising on Pyrmont's eastern shore. And City West has released a third parcel of formerly industrial Pyrmont landthe Gateway sitefor tenders >> United States landscape architect George Hargreaves has been asked to help refine the design of public areas at Homebush >> Tiring of life in a large office, Don Gazzard has announced his departure from Gazzard Sheldon and is practising in peaceful Jamberoo >> The Central Sydney Planning Committee is being asked to approve substantial revisions of two prominent hotel/apartment projects by Peddle Thorpat East Circular Quay and the Woolloomooloo finger wharf >> UNewcastle architecture students camped on campus for a recent week of "dynamic uplift" from Ric Leplastrier, Peter Stutchbury, Phil Harris, Paul Pholeros and artist Janet Laurence >> Fed-up with council tardiness on identifying suitable residential development sites to answer Sydney's expected growth, NSW Urban Affairs Minister Craig Knowles has his own staff seeking properties for rezoning.
Perth's MLC Buildingby Bates Smart McCutcheon with Hawkins & Sands, and representing an early use of curtain wallingis being revised to a Peter Hodge design which some observers say is "unsympathetic" >> Peter Hunt has won the Perth City Council consultancy on refurbishing Council Houseironically ahead of Cox Howlett & Bailey, descended from the original architect Jeffrey Howlett >> Oldham Boas Ednie Brownnow in The Buchan Groupis celebrating 100 years of practice >> LandCorp is masterplanning to reduce sprawl between Joondalup and Yanchep >> Perth City Council is considering the DA for an $80 million hotel on Westralia Square: a venture by Kerry Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings and merchant bank Grant Samuel.
Darwin has $90 million worth of hotel rooms and apartments under constructionsaid to be more than Sydney. The largest project is a Holiday Inn on the Esplanade at Mitchell Street.
Federal Arts Minister Richard Alston has launched AusHeritage, a network of Australian heritage practitioners conscious of growing employment opportunities in Asia and the Pacific >> The Building Owners and Managers Association has adopted a new, high-cred name: the Property Council of Australia >> In an Australian Financial Review article on the future of building design, architects Robert Peck (Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan) and Geoff Lee (Woodhead Firth Lee) said that computer documentation and estimating systems are making architecture a "team sport" and claim that design practices will need a nationalor internationalbase to sustain much-increased overheads. (As an example, Woodheads have lately set up new offices via mergers with Conrad Theodore Partnership in Melbourne and Linklater Dawson in Darwin.) In the same article, Richard Dinham (SPJH) said that successful firms of tomorrow will have diversified into ecological sustainability and facilities and energy management. This line was contradicted by Malcolm Carver (Scott Carver), whoin a grudging word for a profession which "we are not in the business of talking to"advised design firms to "stick to their knitting" >> At its last National Council meeting, the RAIA agreed to complain to government about architects copping increasing liability for errors by sub-consultants (an unacceptable insurance burden in a climate of fee bidding); reassess chapter subsistence levels in a national budget review; survey impacts of quality assurance; prepare a strategy on gender "equity" in committees, require universities proposing new M.Arch degree courses to include content equal to a B.Arch plus a masters by coursework; increase involvement in international affairs; look at consolidating RAIA publications; ask the MBA and BOMA/Property Council of Australia to recognise the architects of buildings winning their awards; consider ways of enlarging RAIA membership and (after a few recent incidents) suggest to the AACA that it increases the RAIA's representation to equal that of state Boards of Architects >> Josephine O'Brien has won the architecture category in the first NAWIC Awards for Women in Construction.