Alan (Lapidus) knows what he’s talking about. He and his father (Morris) designed for both me and my father (sic), and his knowledge is comprehensive. He’s also a total pro. Pay attention to what he has to say – he’s very good. Donald J. Trump. Book cover blurb. See below.

Trump + property

The USA liar-in-chief, Donald Trump, claims to be a wealth creator from his many investments, but everything he touched turned to dust. Steaks, wines, vodka, water, Bibles, a University, golden shoes, even a casino. (how do you lose when owing a casino?). All loss making.

The only business that ever made money for Trump was property. Take the Trump towers. Please NY, take them away. USA economists estimate that he has the same wealth now as that gifted to him by his father Fred. The huge debts that he has accrued from his felonies will require him to sell, or the government claim, much of his precious property.

In the USA, as for Australia, where industry and manufacture is on the decline, the default money maker is property. There, as here, developments with shockingly tasteless design reign supreme. Is there a link between Trump’s extreme crudeness and ugly properties?

One day, someone is going to explain how successful property developers become so right wing. Or is it the other way round?

Serious about Sirius

The conversion of the Sirius building is nearing completion. For those of you who came in late, Sirius was a custom-designed social housing scheme in Sydney’s Rocks. Designed by Teo Gofers when he was with the NSW Government Architect's Office. It was graced with generous foyer, a library and meeting rooms for the residents. The apartments were modest in size, with minimum ceilings to maximize the number of units across the site. Good reading here, and here, and here and here.

In an act of utter vandalism, the previous NSW LNP government sold off Sirius, along with much of Miller's Point. They cleared out the residents and put it up for sale. Then treasurer, later Premier, Dominic Perrottet, accused it of looking like a car park (the very thing his federal counterparts promised to build, but never did).

Architect Shaun Carter, as then president of the RAIA NSW chapter, led the opposition and was partially successful. Saved the building, but not as social housing. And now, seeing the conversion to luxury apartments, I would argue he didn't even save the building.

The additions designed by BVN, have been praised in some quarters, but for me the glamourfication sits so awkwardly it shows how graceful it once was. When subtlety was called for, they shouted. We can only hope the lumpen copper-brown forms fade to green to lose their unfortunate allusions.

A reminder for the next 100 years as you cross the Bridge of how brutal and uncaring the right wing of politics is towards social housing, and its complete lack of understanding of the social and physical importance of architecture.

Printed concrete

If you watched the last series of the TV show The Block (yes, I know, not a great crossover with A&D readers) you would have seen a ‘3D printed’ meeting room. Made by concrete squeezed from a computer-controlled nozzle in a continuous run to create the walls and structure for the building. It looked amazing and attracted quite some attention.

Both the Block meeting room and this duplex (under construction in Woolooware NSW) are by the creator and maker of the machinery, Nick Holden. and his company Contour3d.

Holden has developed machinery to lay walls from a continuously run nozzle that is CAD CAM (computer aided design and manufacture). The nozzle has 3 dimensional movement with a frame on tracks back and forth, and a bar side to side and up and down.           

These images show a week’s pouring in the current construction process, (allowing for experimentation issues) and was finished in just over another week. Far quicker than traditional brick or brick veneer. More images of the final building soon.


Who are Trump’s architects? Answer: Morris and Alan Lapidus. Father and son. In his first book on post-modernism, Charles Jencks resurrected the elder’s reputation from the shaming by modernists. lavishly praising the remarkable Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. The cover of Morris’s autobiography, Too Much is Never Enough, tells you all you’ll find inside.

Junior has written an (unintentionally) hilarious account of working with the rich and tasteless, and just how far pandering will get you. Trump gets 24 lines in the index. I loved page 159: “I’ve counted him (Trump) as a friend for decades and I’ve always respected him… I’m well aware he has his detractors” and on and on. Hats off to Mark Stiles for the book loan.

Signs Off

Uh Oh. Not good planning to have such a big sign that it overshadows the solar panel on top of the machine taking the coin and card. Wrong way at the Wright Lane Carpark in Newcastle (on Hunter).

Design Notes 31 is researched and written by Tone Wheeler, architect /Adjunct Prof UNSW /President AAA. The views expressed are his. Past Design Notes and Tone on Tuesday columns can be found here. You can contact TW at [email protected].