The jury is out on the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology (UTS )by American architect, Frank Gehry at the cost of $180mill AUD. It is Gehry’s first Australian building. The most commonly used references are to crumpled paper bags. My response to the critics is a combination of firstly what Australians call, “the tall poppy syndrome”, or mocking people who are doing better than you; secondly is they haven’t been looking at the building in its’ context.
It isn’t open to the public until later this month but from the outside, first impressions is that it is a very dynamic, fluid and organic insertion/addition and gateway to the UTS that is slotted behind Harris Street. It was hard to find it walking from the Ultimo side of UTS, where there are some other very exciting new cutting edge buildings under construction as well.
The photographs that you see in the media are all taken from the city side where there is a wreath of trees in front and it stands out like a wrecked fortress. When you do approach it on the ground, it is full of intriguing reflections, angles, dynamic shapes, spaces, overhangs, shadows and the brick work echoes older buildings on the campus as the glass windows incorporate them into its’ facade. Sydney doesn’t have many buildings as engrossing as this one – it is not quiet but rather reflects the energy that education can inspire.