Back to the future: the pragmatic classicism of Australia's Parliament House
|Published in:||arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, June 2003, n. 2, v. 7|
Until the launch of Federation Square in Melbourne, in 1997, Australia's contribution to the history of international architectural competitions consisted essentially of two buildings: the Sydney Opera House, won by Jørn Utzon in 1957, and the Federal Parliament House in Canberra, won by Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorp (MGT) in 1980. While Utzon's building is widely acknowledged as a daring piece of innovative design and one of the architectural icons of this century, MGT's winning scheme for Parliament House drew heavy criticism from the moment the proposal was unveiled: neo-Classicist lines, a Beaux-Artsparti, and the building's occupation of Capital Hill – at the top of the Griffins' 1912 scheme for Canberra – were seen by many as displaying a lack of sensibility towards Australian landscape, culture, and ingenuity, and as the result of a conservative approach to contemporary urban design.
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