UTS project: Frank Gehry Business School

On the corner of Omnibus Lane and Ultimo lane, preparations for the opening of the construction site for the Business School Dr Chau Chark Building in the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Broadway Campus by Frank Gehry and Partners are underway. The 16,000 sq m of the Business School is comprised of 11 floors and will cost around $150m. The building have two distinct facades: in the east face Gehry tries to reflect Sydney’s heritage architecture thought the use of coloured brick. The bricks are set to form a folds and curves with a rough textured fabric. The west facade is to feature a large piece of glass to vertically ‘break’ the building and reflect the neighbouring architectural fabric.

Gehry’s plan arose from an idea to create vertical stacks of office floors resembling a tree-house with cracks in between, creating a place for focused research and cross-disciplinary interaction. The design seeks to incorporate and interact with its surroundings. Natural sunlight will flood in through the large, specially positioned windows and glass panels at the street level try to create a feeling of transparency and openness.

Like every Frank Gehry project around the world, the UTS Broadway Campus has been followed by many discussions about the extravagance of his design. Actually I think that it would be so much more superficial to just talk about the shape of his buildings, instead of analysing the reasons that every time raises a dust around his projects. We cannot deny the fact that it doesn’t matter if the project is liked or not: the shape, the material, the interaction with the city. The reality is that the projects of Gehry always call the attention of the media.

It is likely that this is exactly the result that UTS is looking for; increasing its international fame enormously after this project, in the same was that Bilbao has altered in reputation over the last 10 years thanks to Gehry. One project is capable of starting the regeneration of a whole city. Even if the other projects by Lacoste, Marshall and Durban Bloch + BVN could be create a real dialogue with the city and answer the real needs of the people that will live these spaces, probably the first link that we will have in our mind about UTS Campus will be the Gehry’s building. Because architecture like every other art form is often polemic.

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