Karl Bitar, Ian Campbell, Mark Arbib, Barry O'Farrell, James Packer...more, Andrew Clennell, Richard Rogers, Matthew Moore, Paul Keating, Philip Thalis, Clover Moore
Paul Keating suggests Barangaroo's new hotel casino be built over the harbour
Page 1 of 2Barangaroo's new hotel and casino should be built over the water, the former prime minister Paul Keating has urged.
He's suggested Premier Barry O'Farrell reverse the decision for the Barangaroo hotel to be erected on solid ground. Keating is the former chairman of the advisory Barangaroo Design Excellence Review Panel.
But the Premier quickly ruled out the idea of returning the hotel to its original position saying: "I think that would be a terrible precedent given the Harbour is one of the greatest assets and attributes this city has."
The initial 2009 plans under Keating's stewardship had the proposed hotel built over the harbour but it was revised after a public outcry, with Keating yesterday attributing it to "Clover Moore, Darling Island residents and The Sydney Morning Herald".
The proposal was derided on unveiling when the SMH published its front-page characterisation of the hotel on the pier as "the worst of Dubai".
It was during the period of anti-development urban affairs reportage by the then urban affairs editor Matthew Moore. It included a six-month campaign against the hotel concept with the president of the Barangaroo Action Group, Ian Campbell, prominent in the reportage. Having paid $9.1 million in 2008, Campbell owned a prestige Sydney Wharf apartment in the nearby Darling Island district, which while over water itself, was at risk of losing morning sun from the then proposed hotel development, which was being presented (below) in as unflattering light as possible.
Philip Thalis, who won the initial design competition on redeveloping Barangaroo but failed to secure the design implementation, was the commentator who dubbed the hotel over the harbour as "a catastrophic mistake for Sydney".
"It's the worst of Dubai 'look at me' architecture,'' Thalis told the SMH urban affairs reporting team in late 2009.
Matthew Moore, who has since taken redundancy from Fairfax Media, is expected to appear in an upcoming ABC Australian Story that looks at the emotional upheaval within its dwindling journalistic ranks.
The project's lead architect Lord Richard Rogers did find voice through the property pages of the SMH in May 2011, telling then its property editor Jonathan Chancellor that the hotel was " a wonderful opportunity for a landmark as long as the ground area is public domain".
"It's a visual marker," he told me.
Ivan Harbour, a partner at the London-based architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners – whose design was selected for the project – noted it was the heritage Walsh Bay wharves nearby that helped shape the practice's plan.
"We as outsiders came along and saw that Sydney builds in the water," Harbour said.
"We thought if we can put water into the site through the inlets, maybe we can project outside of the site too. So we are not taking water away, in fact we are increasing the amount of water.
"It seemed to us it wasn't an irrational thing to do to have this as a focal point. We didn't quite understand the comparison with Dubai," Harbour said.
The architects did like its briefly attributed nickname, Big Red.
"We thought fantastic – it has a nickname, which means it's in the consciousness," Harbour said.
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