It is the era of the “starchitect”, where developers and governments seek out big name firms to create a shortlist with a celebrity-like flavour to gain media attention.
Candalepas says the merit of the scheme should be the paramount consideration, not the architect.
“There’s no guarantee that firms can create iconic buildings every time,” Candalepas said.
“While experience should absolutely be a criterion, overarching that should be the proposition for the site – the scheme.”
Appointing a big-name celebrity architecture firm is certainly no guarantee of a sensitive, considered – or celebrated – outcome.
The Barangaroo International Towers, completed in 2016, were quietly received – winning no architecture awards. Lendlease appointed London firm Rogers Stirk + Harbour to steer the design outcome for the landmark harbour site, with the final result receiving muted fanfare.
So too the $600 million Foster and Partners-designed Lumiere towers in Sydney – the London-based Fosters and Partners, led by Pritzker Prize-winner Norman Foster, won no major architecture awards.
That hasn’t stopped developers around the country prioritising the appointment of international firms.
Beulah’s recent BMW Southbank Site development competition, accompanied by a media blitz promoting a star-studded shortlist, was entirely led of foreign architects.
Lendlease tapped Fosters and Partners again for a $545 million, 55-storey skyscraper in Circular Quay, while Zaha Hadid was sought out by Queensland developer Sunland for its embattled triple-tower Brisbane project.
Malcolm Reading says the proliferation of international firms on design shortlists is a response to a wider global outlook and a willingness to embrace a wider range of disciplines in placemaking.
“We are seeing many more collaborative teams entering and making up shortlists, bringing together skill sets and wider expertise,” Reading said.
Recent work by Reading’s firm includes competitions for the Royal College of Art, the V&A and the Illuminated River Foundation in London, the Mumbai City Museum and the Adelaide Contemporary.
Reading said that he was “delighted” to be appointed to drive the two-stage competition.
“This is a hugely relevant initiative for New South Wales, and indeed Australia.
“We will work closely with the Create NSW project team who are overseeing the development of the new Museum as well as keeping the local community informed on the competition’s progress through launch, shortlisting and the announcement of the winning team.”