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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:23 AM   #1
lawson18
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#Construction | CBD SOUTH | UTS Redevelopment | U/C

Beauticians sought for city's ugliest building
Harriet Alexander Higher Education Reporter
July 7, 2008

THE University of Sydney has its sandstone, Macquarie University its magnificent grounds and the University of NSW its award-winning Scientia Building. But the University of Technology, Sydney, has a concrete monolith that marks its downtown location with excruciating clarity.

"We have a tower, but no one could claim it is an ivory one," the former vice-chancellor Gus Guthrie said in a speech to students in 1986. But plans are afoot to have the tower, described even by the university's public relations department as "notorious", shed its ugly duckling status and become, if not a swan, at least a thing to be fond of.

The university will run a competition for architects and designers to come up with a scheme to improve the tower's appearance and its contribution to the campus's environmental sustainability plan.

There has even been talk of recruiting the tower-hating former prime minister Paul Keating to the judging panel.

Patrick Woods, the deputy vice-chancellor for resources, has tested the waters with 20 of the university's engineering students, challenging them to come up with ideas for the tower.

They returned with a design to cover it in solar panels to supplement the university's energy supply. "This could be a really, really cool example of environmental sustainability at a university," Mr Woods said.

The tower's refurbishment will become part of a $1 billion plan to renovate the campus, including creating green spaces and thoroughfares that can be shared by students and locals.

Its appearance will also be "softened" by the towers to be built on the Carlton United Brewery site across the road, which residents have complained will crowd the area with more high-rise buildings.

Paul Ashton, of UTS's Centre for Public History, said students were more bemused than ashamed of their tower. "It's become more, if anything, a little joke about how ugly the tower is," Associate Professor Ashton said. "It's the ugliest thing in town, but it's ours."

The tower - completed in 1979 at a cost of $32 million - was initially planned as one of three when it was conceived in the 1960s, but it was revised because of Commonwealth funding cuts in the mid-'70s, according to the university's historian, Annette Salt.

Students said it was designed in the wake of the 1968 Paris riots to be a space in which they would not want to congregate.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:42 AM   #2
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The UTS "U:" magazine did a article on UTS Tower for the 20th year celibrations in May.

http://www.newsroom.uts.edu.au/opini...m?ItemId=10753

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http://www.newsroom.uts.edu.au/opini...m?ItemId=10753
5 May 2008

The building most readily identified with UTS is Building 1, better known as the Tower. On more than one occasion it has been singled out as Sydney's ugliest building. For many UTS staff, this has become a matter of pride. The Tower has provoked beautification schemes from irate architects. It has inspired kitsch material culture in the form of Tower lapel pins and snow domes, both now sought-after objects. And it has given rise to various stories about its design and construction.
Some journalists from the nearby Fairfax building rowed across the flooded excavation site in an idle moment.

The original 1964 plan provided for a row of seven twelve-storey buildings on the site. This was gradually modified. In 1965 it was to be four buildings of fifteen, twenty, nineteen and fourteen storeys. And by 1966, three buildings were planned of thirteen, twenty-two and sixteen storeys with two basements and five podium levels. By the mid-1970s, with cutbacks in Commonwealth funding, the grand plan was reduced to two buildings, the second to be beheaded. In the euphoria of the late sixties and early seventies, however, with money readily available and the Brickfield Hill campus bursting at the seams, NSWIT - which became UTS in 1988 and the largest of the institutions which ultimately amalgamated as the new UTS in 1990 - was keen to acquire new buildings.

The plan was to create an 'indoor campus' with all facilities being self-contained. An alternative interpretation of the Tower's rationale was provided by Shoplift, a Student Association magazine. It alleged that the architects had been instructed to develop a building "in which students would not want to congregate". This was in the wake of the 1968 student riots in Paris and elsewhere when fear of student agitation was prevalent.

Construction commenced in 1969 only two weeks after the State Government announced the signing of the contract. The site quickly became a huge hole in the ground, 300 feet square and 50 feet deep and a great attraction to passers-by. Due to inclement weather, it quickly filled with water.

Some journalists from the nearby Fairfax Building rowed across the flooded excavation site in an idle moment. The continual rain not only delayed work but also posed construction problems particularly with the hydraulic shaft wells. In one attempt to clear them, a deep-sea diver was employed to drill holes allowing the water to move into the sub-strata. This procedure was successful – until it rained again.

As it was being built at the same time as the Sydney Opera House, the Tower became known as "The Broadway Opera House rising," as the Sun newspaper quipped, in costs but in no other way. This was a reference to industrial action by the Builders' Labourers Federation (BLF) particularly over a dispute between its federal and state branch members. On one occasion eight BLF members locked themselves inside two high cranes and refused to come down. A single BLF dispute in 1970 lasted five weeks. The Tower was supposed to grow by a level every three weeks but at one point a level took eighteen months to complete.

Finally, in 1975, administration moved into the first few floors also using the podium area while the rest of the Tower was being completed. In 1979, after approximately eight years in construction and at a final cost of $32 million – almost double the original estimate of cost and time – the ‘tallest educational facility in Australia with [27 floors and] thirty-two levels rising 120 metres above the pavement’ was officially opened.

Once the first tower was almost complete, the Institute turned its attention to the second. The Commonwealth Government was not forthcoming financially so Building 2 was built to ground level and until NSWIT had signed a contract for completion, covered with a plastic sheet. The building opened in March 1980 with eleven floors instead of the planned twenty-two and with a wider base. But works continued until 1984.

President of NSWIT Werner considered that the central city site had ‘paid off’ as it allowed easy access to the Tower buildings because the transport system was good. It has been described very colourfully. Journalist Elizabeth Farrelly called it ‘conspicuous, defiant, detested’. Professor David Goodman has noted its transformation ‘from eyesore to icon. Its perceived starkness may be part of a proud image of being down to earth. As former Vice-Chancellor Gus Guthrie commented: ‘We have a tower, but no one could claim it was an ivory one’.

Annette Salt and Paul Ashton
Over the last couple of years UTS has been slowly getting rid of the brickwork within buildings 1 and 2. Hiding it and pulling up glass walls.

I am one of those people that like the tower. It could do with a clean and a do up at the podium levels but leave the outside of the tower.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:12 AM   #3
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I went inside the building two years ago and even inside, it hasnt changed since it was built. The lifts are awful and very slow

It's time to give it a total overhaul. Give it some real pride.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:32 AM   #4
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Dont get me wrong. There needs alot of work to be done. You are right Fabian. I really dont know how they could of designed a 6 lift tower worse. It has taken me 18min to get from level 4 to level 24 once.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:28 AM   #5
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good to of hear of refurb.
can you imagine 3 of these towers?


image hosted on flickr
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:16 AM   #6
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They should at least paint the exterior with a lighter cream/sand/camel colour.
Or they could install reflective glass panels to hide the ugly brown concrete.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:17 AM   #7
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when i read the first half of the title i honestly thought it was going to say 'UTS tower finally to be demolished' !!
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Old July 7th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #8
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Lots of memories of this tower as a kid...

Driving to the city along Parra road you knew you were almost there when this popped up on the horizon.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 10:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
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when i read the first half of the title i honestly thought it was going to say 'UTS tower finally to be demolished' !!

This building is very unlikely to be demolished ,if there was an earthquake it'd be the last building standing in Sydney.The way it is structurally built has made it one of the strongest buildings in Sydney.Because the way it is designed the building will literally just topple over like a domino if explosives were used to demolish it as opposed to your average building which implodes from the inside and falls to pieces. Hence to get rid of the tower requires lots of money for demolition and the costs of a refurb out weigh that of the demolition costs.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 12:22 PM   #10
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even though it is ugly it is now an icon. it would be a shame if a refurb totally changed it's look. i'm hoping it's something that makes the building look great but still allows you to visualise what it once looked like underneath. i'm also surprised that an educational institution is planning on spending a lot of $$$ to just make something prettier. i thought they would be far more practical than that and i can hear the student bodies complaining already about all thye better things that the money could be spent on.

before they do anything else i hope they fix the way it integrates at ground level, so much lost potential there. it makes sense now about creating a space no one would want to use, it worked!
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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #11
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that building is fugly
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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:33 PM   #12
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Do you know that university is labelled as UTS?

Ugliest Building in Sydney
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Old July 7th, 2008, 02:34 PM   #13
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hemm well i certainly don't think its the ugliest and i'm not even sure if a makeover is the right way to go. It's a perfect example of brutalism and it might not be beautiful but its a necessary historical example of its style. I would still argue there are many many more disgusting buildings in sydney that should be demolished or made over, I am happy at least star City is getting altered it really is shite. I'd rather see them complete the remaining towers, and possibly skin them in metal with mirrored windows to maintain the brutalist shape with a post modern twist on the design.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Do you know that university is labelled as UTS?

Ugliest Building in Sydney

??? It's not Ugliest Tuilding in Sydney!
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:10 PM   #15
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I do think the logo should be scaped though. The UTS logo is an abomination. God get a typeface that is with the times thanks.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:10 PM   #16
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dont worry, it wont standout much anymore with the same height nouvel design tower opposite on cub site.should take limelight off abit
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Old July 7th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #17
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I do think the logo should be scaped though. The UTS logo is an abomination. God get a typeface that is with the times thanks.
I have always liked the "UTS" at the top of the building. Its simple and gets the message across. I would love to see it lit up at night. Help us all if they decide to put one of the three Logos up there.

I have always wanted to see the tower building covered in blue glass and coloured Pannels. Thats is very unlikely to happen because of the way the tower is constructed. Most likely they will put a cladding on top of whats there.

It would cost a hell of a lot of money to remove the pebblecrete from the outside cladding.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:33 PM   #18
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That UTS branding has not always been like that and nor has it always been on the tower. It's a poor excuse for a logo and Times as a typeface went out in the 80s. The building at one stage had the UTS shield on the tower I think?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 11:34 PM   #19
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If you read the article UTS was established in 1990. It used to be known as the NSW Institute of Technology.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 02:15 AM   #20
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even though it is ugly it is now an icon. it would be a shame if a refurb totally changed it's look. i'm hoping it's something that makes the building look great but still allows you to visualise what it once looked like underneath.
i agree. it might be ugly, but it is a sydney landmark - i hope they don't change it too much.

and as for "ugliest building(/tuilding?) in sydney"... i could nominate a few that would take that crown ahead of the UTS tower. for me, that prize would have to go to the pink and blue art deco monstrosity on george street / bathurst street.
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