Frank Gehry’s Australian Debut On Its Way to Construction

Frank Gehry‘s first project in Australia, a business school building for the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) proposed in 2010 and immediately likened to a crumpled brown bag, has entered the second stage of its journey to realization. Last week, Australian property group Lend Lease secured the bid to construct the landmark design, undeterred by the $30-million increase in construction costs from the $150-million price estimate at the time of the project’s proposal.

As UTS vice-chancellor Ross Milbourne told The Sydney Morning Herald, the significant jump in construction costs can be attributed, in part, to changes to the design’s construction, which will now involve a more “bespoke” method of hand-laying bricks instead of the initially conceived, cheaper “brick curtain” technique. The anticipated result is a more fluid, undulating design, but possibly a slower process, an interesting prioritizing of quality over speed that has often fallen to the wayside with such architectural spectacles. Delays, however, are not expected to significantly shift the completion date in mid-2014. Along with its original timeline, the project has also sustained its divisiveness: 54% of voters in a Sydney Morning Herald poll of almost 12,000 participants claimed to find the design innovative, 16% expressed indecisiveness, and 30% happily agreed with the position summarized by: “Hate it, looks like there’s been an earthquake.”

- Kelly Chan