Sydney Modern objections focus

An artist’s impression of Sydney Modern, the proposed new extension of the Art Gallery of NSW designed by leading Japanese architectural firm, SANAA. Picture: supplied.

Elizabeth Fortescue, Art Gallery of NSW building plan attracts flood of objections, The Daily Telegraph, 16 January 2018

Sydney Modern, the Art Gallery of NSW’s proposed $344 million building expansion project, has attracted a flood of objections.

Many of the angriest reactions are about the loss of green space in the adjacent Royal Botanic Garden.

The Department of Planning and Environment received 178 objections to the project, which gallery director Michael Brand has promoted as essential for the future health of Sydney’s cultural life.

In contrast, there were just 63 statements of support.

The Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens’s submission said that Sydney Modern would occupy 1.87 hectares, most of which was in the Gardens and owned by the RBG and Domain Trust.

The foundation’s submission noted that the RBG had won the Major Attraction Award at the NSW Tourism Awards last month, beating the AGNSW, Bridge Climb and the Opera House.

“The community clearly appreciates green space,” its submission said.

Last financial year 5.2 million people visited the RBG while 1.4 million visited the gallery.

Many of the complaints about Sydney Modern came from individuals.

Leading jurist Elizabeth Evatt wrote that Sydney Modern would cause “too great a loss of green space”.

“The need for an extensive new building in the city has not been made in a convincing manner,” Ms Evatt wrote.

Other complainants including prominent architect Andrew Andersons said the Cutaway at Barangaroo would be an ideal alternative location for the gallery’s new building and would cost much less.

Architect David Chesterman criticised the “extreme and intrusive contrast” between the original sandstone building and the proposed new building, and said the extension would block harbour views from the existing gallery.

A spokesman for the Department of Planning and Environment said the gallery would now prepare a Response to Submissions Report for the department to consider as part of its assessment.

“The Minister for Planning and Housing is the consent authority and will determine the project,” the spokesman said.

The State Government has announced funding of $244 million towards the project. The gallery is raising the final $100 million itself, and is up to $88 million.

But just how the gallery will find recurrent funding to maintain Sydney Modern and keep it filled with exciting, engaging artworks is an issue raised in some of the submissions in response to the DA.

A spokeswoman for the Art Gallery of NSW told the Daily Telegraph that “as part of the State Significant Development Application process, the AGNSW is carefully considering all submissions and will respond to the Department of Planning early this year”.

Sydney Modern is designed by Japanese architectural firm SANAA.