IN 1929 the people of Newcastle celebrated the completion of the City Hall and Civic buildings designed by the eminent architect Henry White, thus creating the centre of political and cultural life of the city.
50 years later, in 1977, the circular administration building was completed, separating the functional role from the ceremonial and cultural activities. Strategically located, it balances the complex by completing the tripartite composition with City Hall and Nesca House.
The 1977 administration building is finished with a reconstructed render in a colour matching the sandstone of City Hall and Nesca House. Importantly, all three buildings are in the civic area, the heart of the city. The proposal by the council to vacate the Administration Building and relocate to a commercial office building breaks the Civic nexus - both functionally and spiritually.
It therefore becomes essential that the civic memory of the 1977 building remains.
There should be no proposal for the administration building to be demolished.
In addition to its historical civic connection, it is considered to be an excellent example of mid 20th century architecture. The building should be sympathetically adapted to a new use, utilising its many assets - a basement car park for 50 cars, column-free space, a prestige location and an increased site footprint through upper floor cantilevers.
The building was designed by Romberg and Boyd in association with Wilson and Suters Architects and has the characteristics of 20th century international style.
Its sculptural form and structural ingenuity, utilising precast concrete, contrasts favourably with the anonymous slab-like glass boxes of the period. I was concerned by the article in the Newcastle Herald (“Key sites go to market”, Herald 16/5) that suggested both the administration building and the adjacent Fred Ash Building might be demolished, based upon a real estate agent's suggestion that the circular form was inefficient – a debatable position outweighed by its considerable merits.
Based upon the civic story so far, it is possible that in 40 years’ time new technologies could allow administration to return to the civic centre. I well remember in 1971, Robyn Boyd (the doyen of Australia architects) stated that "the building’s image will reverberate around Australia".
Brian Suters, The Junction
ABOUT YOU NOT AT ALL, MEN
IN REPLY to Colin Allan (Letters 19/6), I am a human male and I have been totally beyond outraged at the way my fellow human males have been attacked since one of us allegedly raped and murdered that girl last week in Melbourne, and another of us allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted a child in Newcastle last week.
The response from women has been, to say the least, hysterical. These men are just two individuals and the fact that they are men has nothing to do with this - 99.9% of guys are really good. For example, last week I held a door open for a woman.
The week before that, I told a female passer-by she was beautiful and followed her to her car to emphasise the point. I'm sick of women attacking men for stuff that isn't their fault. Most of us are Very Good People.
This isn't a woman issue, it's about individual responsibility. Women need to be careful because they could be attacked any time by a man or a woman. There is equal chance of both. I personally haven't done anything wrong. For the record, this is satire.
Sarah Gaul, New Lambton
TIME THE WEST GOT SOME
RATEPAYERS must wonder how Newcastle City Council allocates funds with equity and transparency to its four wards when Wallsend and Stockton are left waiting for essential flood mitigation and erosion control measures while massive expenditure on a skate park in Ward One is announced as a fait accompli.
Will the council make public the business case and any hydrological studies for this latest infrastructure project? There are streets in our western suburbs still waiting for kerbing, guttering and footpaths but in the east we have seen recently resurfaced roads fully reconstructed and resurfaced with special car-racing compound bitumen.
I believe money spent on the move to the new building in Newcastle West, its internal fit-out, networking installation and rent would be more than enough to fund flood mitigation at Wallsend, Stockton's beach erosion control and elimination of the mounting infrastructure backlog.
Government is about prudent management of limited funds to maximise long term benefits. For Newcastle City Council, I think it can be as basic as a choice between a new rented building with a rooftop recreation area for council workers or completion of essential environmental projects in the suburbs.
John Beach, Bonshaw
PROBLEM OUT OF THE GATE
RECENTLY the retailer Watches of Switzerland announced that it was suing the NSW government for losses of $2.7m occurred through the construction of Sydney's light rail (“Upmarket retailer sues state over Sydney's bungled light rail project”, SMH 17/6). They are just one of a growing number of businesses that have been badly impacted financially – and environmentally through noise and dust - by this infrastructure project, with claims mounting to over $1 billion.
If they are successful in their claim, it could open the floodgates for others including Newcastle retailers amid the upheaval from light rail construction. Such a chain reaction of claims would make the belated provision of infrastructure, already extremely costly, impossibly expensive.
I believe it is a situation that has only arisen because of the terrible federal government's policies of high population growth through immigration, with the assumption that the essential infrastructure could somehow be installed by state governments.
Don Owers, Dudley
THAT’S NOT WHERE I LEFT IT
NINE News, please ask your reporters to get their geographic locations correct! Reading an online report from Nine about the fire at the Edwards Bar, the city of Newcastle is reported as being on the NSW Mid North Coast. Since when? I am totally aggrieved at Sydney news reporters repeatedly ignoring Newcastle as a city and often referring to Newcastle and suburbs surrounding it as either being north of Sydney, near the Central Coast or in the Hunter Valley.