The City of Sydney council voted narrowly in favour of pressing ahead with a giant steel sculpture across the city’s main street, despite the cost of the project more than trebling to $11.3 million.
The 58-metre high, ribbon-like steel sculpture “Cloud Arch” by Japanese artist Junya Ishigami, spanning George Street near the town hall, was priced at $3.5 million when it was first announced three years ago, but last week a revised design was revealed with council blaming “technical challenges” for the changes and cost blowout.
The new version of the arch is nearly twice as wide as the original, and is eight metres higher, but lacks the curves of the initial design.
The project will use 140 tonnes of steel – 83 tonnes more than the original, contributing 39% of the additional cost. World steel prices have also increased 43% since December 2015.
Cloud Arch will stretch across George Street from the Queen Victoria building to the intersection with Park Street, with the light rail and pedestrians moving underneath.
Council voted 6-4 to proceed with the project, which spans the light rail project down George Street, and is due to be in place by 2019. But one councillor, Liberal Christine Forster, invoked Australia’s long history of building “big” things to dub it the “Big Tapeworm”.
The project is being touted as a tourism attraction to rival Chicago’s Cloud Gate and St Louis’ Gateway Arch, but Cr Forster said she’s not convinced it will return the same investment as the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour or Goulburn’s Big Merino when it comes to visitor numbers.
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