The controversial winning submission for Canberra’s proposed new convention centre is a conceptual design. The project that will eventually be delivered will likely be a significantly different design. The competition judging panel unanimously selected the winning design by Canberra based GMB, who have a proven track record with significant projects having recently designed the new Canberra Airport Terminal. Their real claim to fame however is new Parliament House…although the practice now is no doubt quite different to how it was 20-30 years ago. GMB have partnered with notable Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, who would have contributed the design flair evident in the design.
It’s an interesting, and in many ways practical arrangement for delivering iconic architecture. A renowned (international?) design architect to handle the front end design work…and a locally based practice to undertake the detailed documentation and construction stage. It’s not an altogether uncommon relationship. For example this is how the new Frank Gehry building at UTS Sydney has been delivered, in partnership with the Sydney office of Jackson Architecture.
Although Fuksas + GMB have one foot in the door, they aren’t guaranteed the final commission. At this early stage they have merely been appointed to work with the various stakeholders in order to develop a ‘reference design’ and business case for the new centre. The design and will undergo many design iterations and value management exercises, and will more than likely look quite different.
The Sydney Opera House was controversial and exorbitantly expensive too. But it’s importance to Sydney as a tourist destination is huge . Is it time for Canberra to think bigger than that of the country town it used to be?