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Gehry to build next Sydney icon

June 16, 2010

UTS announces $150m ‘Frank Gehry icon’ will be added to its Sydney city campus.

The University of Technology in Sydney has announced that Frank Gehry will build its new Business School, at a cost of $150 million.

The announcement coincided with a visit from the architect, who discussed the design process to date with the media. However, the architect was reluctant to reveal details of the scheme, saying premature sketches may raise formal and material expectations beyond any project budget.

The university’s governing body approved the initial design on Wednesday. UTS Chancellor and Chair of UTS Council, Professor Vicki Sara, said: “In one sense, the decision was easy as we were all immediately struck by how Frank Gehry’s concept encapsulates the spirit of UTS. His proposal is bold, innovative and synthesises creativity and technology to create unique learning and research environments for the future.”

Vice Chancellor Ross Milbourne described the decision as a turning point for the university, “[guaranteeing] UTS the most exciting university campus in Australia”.

Gehry Partners have so far grappled with 25 options in the last six months, exploring complex programmatic requirements and contextual issues. According to Gehry, this process is both iterative and intuitive.

UTS will have to wait another 12 months before the concept plan is transformed into a finished design. Gehry explained: “Architectural expressions evolves very slowly. It comes from a deep understanding of the most important functional and social aspects of any project.”

“The goals and objectives of the Faculty informed many iterations of the design, while urban issues such as the site, access, massing and height shape its context. But a concept design is not a fully developed architecture; it is a sketch, and we’ve only just begun to explore the possibilities.”

The building is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

UTS have also announced that Chinese business leader Dr Chau Chak Wing has donated a total of $25 million to the university. $20 million will support the Gehry-designed Faculty of Business, with an additional $5 million used to create an endowment fund for student scholarships. In recognition of the gift, the university will name the new faculty building the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building.

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