Frank Gehry, the Canadian-born American architect who’s known for the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, has given Sydney its most striking building since Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House.
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in Ultimo is the new home of the University of Technology Sydney’s business school. Named in honour of the billionaire Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who donated $US20 million toward the $US180 million cost.
Gehry, 85, said he was inspired by the idea of a tree house, describing the structure as “a growing learning organism with many branches of thought, some robust and some ephemeral and delicate.”
“The fold is primitive, you’re in your mother’s arms when you’re a child, and so we tried to do that with brick,” he said.
When asked if he was happy with the end result, Gehry responded “Oh boy. I’m Jewish and I feel guilty about everything.”
Dr Chau Chak Wing, a media-shy property billionaire with impeccable political connections, is a huge Gehry fan and said the design was “full of passion.”
A special brick-fixing system had to be created for the project, which took five time longer than traditional brick laying as a result.
The project came in on time and budget. Gehry has a reputation for cost blowouts and promised he'd pay any overrun above 10%.
The technique with the bricks, used to create the organic shape, is called corbelling (stepping) individual bricks.
Two oval classrooms feature laminated timber beams, each weighing up to 2 tonnes and up to 12 metres long, made from NZ radiata pine.
The high-tech, two-tiered oval classrooms seat 54, and are designed with 360° engagement in mind to create interaction and dialogue.
The polished stainless steel staircase in the main lobby was manufactured by Queensland-based Urban Art Projects.
Gehry sees the building as 'a growing learning organism with many branches of thought, some robust and some ephemeral and delicate'.
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