17 – 24 December 2017
Australia’s most recognizable structure is the Sydney Opera House. Love it or hate it, its location at the Sydney Harbour entrance and its iconic shape is known worldwide. The stories of its design and construction are legendary. As we have explored the harbor and the surrounding areas, we have seen it from all angles, up close and from a distance.
The Opera House, despite its name, is not a single structure. It has several performance venues including a concert hall, opera theatre, drama theatre, playhouse, and studio. Having made my career in the design and construction of public buildings, I was both impressed and disappointed in its reality. This is a building I studied in school. Pictures give the impression the “shells” are a homogenous smooth white surface. Many visitors are probably surprised to find the surfaces are actually comprised of white and sand colored tiles. Expecting to a smooth white surface, the texture and color of the tiles make it look almost dirty as you approach. I was surprised to find unfinished detailing of the edges, to the point you can see markings from the concrete casts and reinforcing steel. I don’t know an architect today that would have allowed such an incomplete appearance. It should be noted however that original architect Jorn Utzon quit or was forced out, depending on the point of view, and it went over budget by a whopping 1,000%.
After almost 45 years, it still functions as a performance center in one of the world’s busiest cities. It draws a constant stream of tourists. It is the most recognizable built structure in Australia and one of most well known internationally. Despite its flaws and colorful history, you cannot deny its impact.