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Frank Gehry let his fingers do the talking again in Sydney at the official opening of the Dr Chau Chak Wing building at the UTS business school. But rather than the middle finger he offered to Spanish journalists in October, he gave the governor general the double thumbs up after Sir Peter Cosgrove described his building as “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I have ever seen”.
Not to worry, Frank. Even the Sydney Opera House has been called “the nuns in a scrum”. And true, observed from just under the the Toaster and opposite the Coathanger, the south-eastern façade does bear a resemblance to flying sisters.
Sydneysiders, Cosgrove observed, have a propensity to label their architecture with the names of familiar domestic objects. But Gehry did not seem fazed by the paper bag tag, anyway, jovially admitting he had “been called a lot of things” in his career.
His Guggenheim museum of curved titanium put the little known Spanish city of Bilbao on the international map in 1997, and now UTS hopes this uniquely designed university building will catapult Australian higher education into the 21st century. There is something more important at play, too. This may be a business school but Gehry’s vision is that his building’s organic curves can humanise the activity inside it. ….