Gehry building pays design dividend: Turnbull

From left, Professor Roy Green and guest speaker Lucy Turnbull, with authors Dr Liisa Naar and Professor Stewart Clegg   Photo: Lesley Parker

From left, Professor Roy Green and guest speaker Lucy Turnbull, with authors Dr Liisa Naar and Professor Stewart Clegg Photo: Lesley Parker

In summary: 
  • Chief commissioner of the new Greater Sydney Commission Lucy Turnbull says UTS had been "absolutely visionary" when it commissioned Frank Gehry to design the new home for the UTS Business School
  • Launching the book Gehry in Sydney, Turnbull said the building had achieved the university's goals of giving students inspiring spaces, encouraging connectivity and teamwork and establishing UTS as a vibrant centre of a vibrant creative and digital precinct

The response to the Frank Gehry-designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in its first year of operation shows there is a "design dividend" from great architecture, says Lucy Turnbull, chief commissioner of the new Greater Sydney Commission.

Launching the book Gehry in Sydney, Turnbull said the building, home of UTS Business School, was a "sensational result" from a brave decision.

"Every time I come here I am absolutely inspired by the connectivity, the conversation spaces, what some architects call the 'collision spaces' … there's a lot of engagement … and that's what innovation, connectivity and dynamism is all about."

Turnbull said the University of Technology Sydney had been "absolutely visionary" when it commissioned Gehry to design a new building: "2008 wasn't exactly a great time of great optimism," she said. "UTS struck out boldly at a time when it was brave to do so."

The building had achieved the university's goals of giving students inspiring spaces, encouraging connectivity and teamwork, branding UTS as a place of creativity and establishing UTS as a vibrant centre of a vibrant creative and digital precinct.

"There's no doubt that this building has had a spectacular impact on branding the university and the Business School in particular," she said. "It's a microcosm for how important universities are in cities. It's a sensational result ... and it shows us all there really is a design dividend from great design."

Turnbull acknowledged the generous donation of Dr Chau Chak Wing, for "paying the difference between 'business as usual' architecture and exceptional architecture. So, long may there be [philanthropists] who sustain and support design excellence, as he has done, but also scholarship and much greater linkages between Sydney and China and Australia and China."

The Dean of UTS Business School, Professor Roy Green, told the launch British statesman Winston Churchill had once said that "we shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us".

"We certainly have tried to take that message to heart … with a reinvigoration of many of our more traditional Business School programs, culminating with the launch ... of our new MBA in entrepreneurship."

Gehry in Sydney: The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, traces the trajectory of the four-year project and is edited by Dr Liisa Naar and Professor Stewart Clegg of UTS Business School.

Turnbull described Gehry in Sydney as a "stunning" book. "It has the most magical combination between text and narrative on the one hand with illustrations and snapshots of people's perspectives. As a book of a building… it is really, I think, absolutely exceptional."

The book includes interviews with Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners design team members Craig Webb and Brad Winkeljohn. It also shows Gehry's famous sketches, along with plans and models.

It is published by Images Publishing and available for order online. It can also be purchased from Cafe80 in the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building.