Frank Gehry's Sydney business school
completed ahead of 2015 opening

| 36 comments

News: Frank Gehry has completed his first building in Australia – the Dr Chau Chak Wing building at Sydney's University of Technology, set to open in early 2015 (photos by Peter Bennetts).

UTS Business School by Frank Gehry

The 85-year-old architect, who is based in Los Angeles, designed the building to provide teaching, research and office accommodation for the UTS Business School, as part of £612 million overhaul of the university's facilities.



Joining Denton Corker Marshall's recently completed engineering faculty on the university's city campus, just south of Sydney's Central Business District, the Dr Chau Chak Wing building has a partially wavy structure that has been likened to rumpled paper bags.

UTS Business School by Frank Gehry

These fluid shapes appear similar to those of Frank Gehry's previous buildings, like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim Bilbao, but here they have been created using 320,000 custom-designed bricks that had to be laid by hand.

The architect told newspaper The Australian that the choice of materials was a response to the local context.

UTS Business School by Frank Gehry

"I think when the university hired me they expected a shiny metal building," he said. "I made some shiny metal models but they were things I had already sort of worked over and done. I just felt that it should be a material like in the neighbourhood. If I'd built it in metal it would have been fine too, but I think the metal would have cost more."

The Canadian-born architect said he was inspired by the way that artists use folds to explore colour, form and shadow. "Because of the technology we've developed we were able to design something that was primitively made — hand-laid brick — that could follow those kinds of forms and I’ve always wanted to do that with brick."

UTS Business School by Frank Gehry

The curved forms continue inside the school, where the brick walls are finished in plasterboard.

The Dr Chau Chak Wing building is named after an Australian-Chinese benefactor who has donated £13.9 million to UTS. A formal opening is scheduled for February, which Gehry is due to attend.

Photography is by Peter Bennetts.

  • Obi.

    In a couple of hours, Keyboard Warriors with very little idea of what it takes to surpass all barriers and reach this height will post comments here whining on how this isn’t architecture or how Gehry should be have been more socially responsible.

    • oh.stv

      Funny how you already predicted a bad response and very convenient you don’t have any opinion.

      For me I’d say congratulations to Frank. At least he is figuring out now what not to do.

    • Heaven

      You’re right. Socially responsible architecture is for losers!

      Yay, now let’s go f*ck something up.

      Luckily Frank Gehry doesn’t publicly express his strong opinions on the relative value of one type of architecture compared to another.

  • melondesign

    They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but from the outside I’d say this might constitute part of what Frank would call the “98%”.

  • Disco

    As with most of his buildings, they are clever in respect to their construction, but it looks as though someone sneezed while designing it.

  • ipm

    Oh dear.

  • A

    RELEASE THE WARRIORS OF KEYBOARD!

    On a side note, this is a nice and fun building. Well done sir.

  • Als

    I’m also not against it. Some buildings may be fun, playful and highly unconventional. But it would indeed be socially irresponsible if it became a trend.

    • davvid

      If what became a trend? Unconventionality? If it were a trend, it would be moving toward conventionality. The quality of Gehry’s work is not trendy. It’s extremely rare.

  • Gehry has two brick buildings in Ohio. Case Western Reserve and the University of Cincinnati own them. For him to say this is a new exploration in brick, is not true. The university (as was both projects in Ohio) likely made the request.

    The software used to figure out the construction of the curved forms can easily negotiate between zinc sheeting and prefabricated masonry. This isn’t new for Gehry, and it’s dishonest of him to claim so.

    • Aaron

      I’m not sure what you mean by ‘prefabricated masonry’, but the bricks were all laid by hand on-site.

      The level of detailing and the fact that the walls extend outwards as they rise might be what he means by a new exploration in brick.

    • What do all three of these buildings have in common? They’re clad in pre-fabricated “brick” panels. That’s why they all have seams. I believe Gehry and Associates are still using the same manufacturer.

    • jord

      It was actually conceived in sandstone as per colonial Sydney. And one could argue that this has a strong relation to brick construction on a massive scale. Simply that a lack of resources restricted the possibility.

      Or so goes the story from down under.

    • amsam

      What are you even TALKING about? This is not prefab masonry. And Gehry nowhere says this is “new” for him. And it’s dishonest of you to claim so.

  • spadestick

    I’d like to see his middle finger right next to an image of this building. Perhaps embossed into one of the curved walls. Or maybe instead of Gehry’s Fish, a sculpture of the bold gesture. Yes, indeed.

  • Tom

    Looks sh*t.

  • bernra

    Chau Chak Wing building at Sydney’s University of Technology.

    This building looks like the “end of time” apocalypse ruin. Is Frank having us on with his vision of the planet in the near future?

  • Well it’s definitely Gehry, but not as aesthetically appealing as some of his previous projects.

  • rachellemme

    It looks as though part of it is melting.

  • I don’t understand what’s not to like about this building. Generous bay windows projecting from curvaceous masonry walls, enough said here.

    Those faculty office interiors must be to die for. This is an educational building that will be cherished for at least a century. That is true sustainability and social awareness.

  • Oyster

    Is this Gehry’s concept of high-quality design?

  • Kris

    Fourth picture down – that overhang is ghastly and awfully detailed. This looks like it was done on a design and build contract.

  • John McGrath

    Imagine coming across this building drunk.

  • Annette Diziol

    One-trick pony. He has done more or less similar designs before.

  • Crushed it.

  • Adam

    Not again.

  • ScaryGehry

    Am I right?

  • Als

    That’s what I said. It’s not a trend.

  • Concerned Citizen

    This building will probably follow so many others of Gehry’s arrogant distaste for dealing with the building enclosure: it will leak. The opportunities for leaks are enormous, unless this is in a desert.

  • Mies vd R

    Frank Gehry can consider himself one of the most lucky sculptors of all times. He made it with very lithe talent and fooled the world he’s actually an architect. :)

  • Aren’t all these trips to Toon Town getting kind of tiresome?

  • amsam

    But it’s a much better trick than most people come up with in their lifetime.

  • ke

    I’m not a huge fan of Ghery, but after living in inner Sydney and seeing the whole construction of this building, and now the finished product, it really is something. I don’t think photos do it justice.

  • Sammy

    Still haven’t torn down that UTS Tower. Scandal.

  • Aaron

    I’m afraid you are wrong. I watched the brickies laying the bricks by hand.

  • Ginni

    Sham building like its sponsor’s sham “honorary doctorate” purchased by sponsoring some third-grade Keuka university. Sad.