Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry flew to Australia for the opening of his first Australian project on Monday 2 February. The UTS Business school was opened by the Governor General, His Excellency General, The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC, to an audience of reporters, the Federal Minister for Education and other dignitaries.
We were pleased to have a front seat as Frank Gehry was quizzed about the project; how it came about, whether it met the expectations of the university and how the spaces will be utilised. The spectacular interior has a series of unconventional rooms that are adaptable for flexible use.
There are oval classrooms, collaborative theatres and an auditorium (which is the only formal space), student commons, and general teaching spaces. The architectural features underpin the teaching, learning and research undertaken by the Business School and UTS as a whole as well as its pursuits in educational creativity and innovation. The porous quality of the build has been developed to create an educative experience that will translate into a cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach to learning. Students will work in these spaces with other students and also team up with partners in the business sector as they solve real life issues and problems.
The building bears the typical Gehry signature emphasising fluidity and movement as a key design element which is most evident in the circulation spaces and staircases. These along with the monumental and sculptural elements of the oval rooms and soaring spaces, symbolise the movement of conceptual ideas generated through education in physical bricks, mortar, metal, concrete and wood. It was a collaboration of trust which the university implicitly put into the hands of the architect. Gehry said, ” I hope the architect can be the master builder again and not be managed because the industry has that tendancy…”
In attendance at the launch was also the Minister for Education who recognised that we need to update our universities with cutting edge creative and innovative practice and environments.
The extraordinary build and new Sydney landmark is definitely a positive contribution to the UTS landscape and its surrounds, and like the Opera House, it places the precinct and the city of Sydney on the architectural and red brick university map. However in this case the bricks are blonde to match the sandstone of the harbour foreshore and its vicinity.
The event was followed by a walkthrough of the building to see some key features of the interior.
The public can participate in tours of the building during an Open Weekend on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 February 2015. Tour times will be between 9am and 4pm. Registration for tours will be available from midday 2 February via the UTS web page www.uts.edu.au