Darling Harbour re-development on the wrong track say architects

The Australian Institute of Architects says the NSW Government’s decision to re‐develop Darling Harbour
through a single contract with a single developer has betrayed the public interest.

The Institute’s National President Elect Paul Berkemeier said the Government should fulfill its responsibility as
advocate for the public interest by defining and defending the public realm for the project, rather than leaving
this critical step to a development tender.

‘Lend Lease is a reputable organisation that should not have been put in the position of both planning and
developing this large 20 hectare public precinct,’ Mr Berkemeier said.

‘The government has contracted out its responsibility to prepare a master plan for the use of public land, as
well as the rights to demolish and develop it,’ he said.

‘The Institute’s view is that city development is better served by a multiplicity of players in the development
industry, not just one.

‘That is the way most urban areas have been developed, and re‐developed, in the past.

‘The Institute does not take issue with the quality of the professional teams involved in the re‐development,’
Mr Berkemeier said.

‘What we question is the muddled brief to which they are responding and the out‐dated and wasteful demolish
and rebuild strategy underlying the whole proposal,’ he said.

‘Last year the Institute’s NSW Chapter adopted a new policy: Valuing Award‐Winning Buildings in the Long
Term.

‘The policy proposes a number of actions to achieve the long‐term recognition and protection of buildings that
have won the Chapter’s highest honour, the Sulman Medal, including listings on local environmental plans and
the State Heritage Register.

‘The policy aims at the long‐term survival of these highly regarded buildings and encourages adaptations and
additions that respect the integrity of their original designs.

‘In view of this policy, the Institute strongly advocates the retention of the Sulman Medal‐winning Exhibition
Centre in any re‐development of Darling Harbour.

‘The Exhibition Centre was awarded the Sulman Medal in 1989 by a jury chaired by the late Harry Seidler,’ Mr
Berkemeier said.‘We also recommend the retention of the other major buildings in the precinct and the key
features of Tumbalong Park, a facility that has proved to be extremely popular with the people of Sydney.

‘We agree that there is an opportunity to re‐think the uses and relationships between the centres, the Darling
Harbour precinct, and the rest of the city.

‘But we are opposed to the notion that you need to demolish 25‐year old buildings and replace them with new
buildings on similar footprints to achieve these improvements.

‘We also consider that the scope of the project is unnecessarily limited.

‘This is an opportunity to re‐consider the whole of the precinct, from the National Maritime Museum in the
west to King Street Wharf in the east, at least from a planning perspective,’ Mr Berkemeier said.

‘A thorough analysis of the larger precinct would have enabled long‐term strategies to be developed that could
be implemented over a 20‐30 year period.

‘This is our city – the Government’s responsibility is to defend the public interest – not to sell it,’ Mr
Berkemeier said.