Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sydney's Ugliest Building

The UTS Tower is one of many buildings that constitute the University of Technology in Sydney and is widely regarded as Sydney's "ugliest building".


The original 1964 plan provided for a row of seven twelve-storey buildings on the site. This was gradually modified. In 1965 it was to be four buildings of fifteen, twenty, nineteen and fourteen storeys. And by 1966, three buildings were planned of thirteen, twenty-two and sixteen storeys with two basements and five podium levels. The plan was to create an 'indoor campus' with all facilities being self-contained. An alternative interpretation of the Tower's rationale was provided by "Shoplift", a Student Association magazine. It alleged that the architects had been instructed to develop a building "in which students would not want to congregate". This was in the wake of the 1968 student riots in Paris and elsewhere when fear of student agitation was prevalent. By the mid-1970s, with cutbacks in Commonwealth funding, the grand plan was reduced to two buildings, the second to be beheaded. In the euphoria of the late sixties and early seventies, however, with money readily available and the Brickfield Hill campus bursting at the seams, NSWIT - which became UTS in 1988 and the largest of the institutions which ultimately amalgamated as the new UTS in 1990 - was keen to acquire new buildings.


Construction commenced in 1969 only two weeks after the State Government announced the signing of the contract. The site quickly became a huge hole in the ground, 300 feet square and 50 feet deep and a great attraction to passers-by. Due to inclement weather, it quickly filled with water.

Some journalists from the nearby Fairfax Building rowed across the flooded excavation site in an idle moment. The continual rain not only delayed work but also posed construction problems particularly with the hydraulic shaft wells. In one attempt to clear them, a deep-sea diver was employed to drill holes allowing the water to move into the sub-strata. This procedure was successful – until it rained again.

Criticism as Sydney’s Ugliest Building

The Tower has been described very colourfully and identified numerous times as Sydney's ugliest building, notably in The Sydney Morning Herald, by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.  Architecture critic and author Elizabeth Farrelly called it "conspicuous, defiant, detested".  Journalist and author Mike Carlton described it as "a menacing concrete monolith in an architectural genre that the old East German Stasi brought to perfection".

The Tower's visibility in the central business district skyline has also been described positively, as marking Sydney as a University town. Then President of NSWIT Werner considered that the central city site had 'paid off' as it allowed easy access to the Tower buildings because the transport system was good, however the notoriously slow speed at which the building lifts operated before their renovation almost negated this. Professor David Goodman has noted its transformation "from eyesore to icon. Its perceived starkness may be part of a proud image of being down to earth."  Former Vice-Chancellor Gus Guthrie commented, "We have a tower, but no one could claim it was an ivory one."

No comments:

Post a Comment