Two state award domination

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It was interesting to note that all but one of the award winners at last night’s Australian Institute of Awards came from either New South Wales or Victoria. The exception being the VS1/SA Water Head Office by Hassell which took out the National Award for Sustainable Architecture. To the surprise of many, the night’s host, the Melbourne Recital Centre, was pipped for the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture by the National Portrait Gallery by Johnson Pilton Walker in what many consider the major prize of the night. I haven’t visited either of them so I can’t really compare them. Although the Recital Centre did take out the Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture. In what I would class as a surprise, the Letterbox House by McBride Charles Ryan didn’t get a guernsey with the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture going to Chenchow Little Architects for their Freshwater House, with the National Awards for Residential Architecture went to Neeson Murcutt Architecture for the Whale Beach House in Sydney and Zac’s House at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. Also good to see some different names pick up awards this year, hopefully it continues next time around.

For a full list of winners, visit the AIA website.

A misguided bolt out of the blue

Everyone’s favourite neo-con commentator has taken a break from denying climate change to today take aim at Melbourne’s modern architecture. Obviously still basking in the post-coital glow of his recent vacation (if only it was permanent) Bolt waxes lyrical about some of the landmarks he has recently visited.

So I’ve just flown back from marvelling at the Coliseum in Rome, Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna and the Duomo in Milan with its hundreds of extravagant spires, each topped with a statue. The taxi from the airport is now taking me past Melbourne’s latest laughable attempt to build a landmark of its own – this time the Southern Star observation wheel.

Whilst I agree with his comments (I’m still feeling a little dirty) on the giant ferris wheel,  his comments regarding some of Melbourne’s more modern buildings are true to his neo-con roots.

We once could build pretty, of course, but trace our decline. We’ve gone from the elegant Exhibition Building to the barren barn of exhibition space that’s Jeff’s Shed. From the stately Flinders St station to the wave-roofed gimmick of Southern Cross station. From jewelled Regent Theatre to the scraped-bare sterility of the new Melbourne Recital Centre, yet another building ruined by our modish determination to make our public architecture reflect the barrenness of Australia’s deserts.

Sorry Andrew, but I think you may be getting the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) mixed up – I would hardly call Melbourne Recital Centre sterile. In fact it’s one of Melbourne’s most exciting buildings of recent times. And even ACCA is one of the prime reasons why Melbourne is considered at the forefront of design in the world. And has Mr Bolt actually used Flinder Street Station of late? It’s in a sad need of a serious makeover and don’t ask me what happened when they closed the toilets for renovations last year. Hardly an architectural icon.

But how could a Herald Sun article miss out on attempt to have a cheap shot at Federation Square. I’m pretty sure they campaigned for the removal of the “shard”.

But it’s also true that on the few times Melbourne now tries to build beautifully – monumentally – it fails. Take Federation Square, all surly elbows and cringing in camouflage colours – just the building for a generation of neo-barbarians with lip rings and bum antlers.

Whilst it had its early issues, Federation Square is slowing becoming one of the best public spaces in Melbourne, if not Australia. Maybe he forgets the masses of people that constantly turn out for events within the public plaza on a weekly basis. Where else would they go for such events? Complimenting the plaza, is the brilliant NGV Australia, Atrium and ACMI.

I’m sorry Andrew Bolt. but if this best you can do on your first day back from holiday maybe you should stick to your old themes of climate change, queue jumping and Kevin Rudd bashing because your attempt at criticising Melbourne’s thriving architecture scene has fallen flat on its face.

Award winning architecture

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It was no surprise to see the Melbourne Recital Centre and MTC Theatre Project by ARM take out all the big name awards Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Awards as it was the standout project of the year by a significant margin.

In terms of surprises, it was a little surprising to see the Canada Hotel Redevelopment by Hayball take out the Multiple Housing Architecture Award knocking off Wood Marsh’s Balencea Apartments project for the named award. The Canada Hotel Redevelopment also managed to take out the Melbourne Prize as well.

It was also good to see one of my favourite architects, Multiplicity pick up an award for their Chrystobel project – which I saw presented to the juries and always thought it was a chance to pick up an award.

For all the awards and the respective winners, visit here.