Back Sydney's 'squashed brown paper bag' building a one-off

Date: 05 February 2015

Architect Frank Gehry says he'll never again design a building quite like the "crumpled paper bag" which officially opened at Sydney's University of Technology yesterday. The Dr Chau Chak Wing building, which will house a new business school in the inner-city campus, is being hailed as a masterpiece rivalling the Sydney Opera House in distinctiveness. Gehry, the 85-year-old Canadian/American architect best known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, said his first Australian work was unique. "I won't do this building anywhere else," he said.

Constructed from more than 320,000 hand-placed bricks and glass slabs, the A$180 million building with its curvy facade obliterates all the usual "sandstone university" conventions. Traditional lecture halls have been replaced with undulating walls, circular classrooms and a grand chrome-silver staircase. "It's the idea that you can humanise a building," Gehry said. He took his inspiration from Sydney's colonial sandstone buildings, and chose to work in amber-coloured brick as a tribute to that culture. "The 19th-century buildings in Sydney are the most accessible. They have a humanity while the modern buildings tend to be cold and off-putting," Gehry said.

It got the thumbs-up from Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who called it "the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I've ever seen". "It's bold. It's inspiring. The walls invite you, the glass embraces you," Cosgrove said at the opening ceremony. The building is named after Chinese businessman Dr Chau Chak Wing, who donated A$20 million to the project. His son had previously studied architecture at UTS, which has undertaken a A$1.2 billion campus upgrade over the past decade.

The Gehry building is the centrepiece of that plan.

- Credited to  AAP/NZ herald

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