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NSW Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Shaun Carter has hit back at suggestions by Crown Resorts that it could pull the pin on its proposed $1.2 billion Barangaroo casino if their preferred design is rejected.
"Let [them] walk away,” Shaun Carter told Fairfax Media.
“I look at that site and would say that would have to be one of the highest-value sites in the CBD, why should we be concerned about a developer getting upset when they're not getting their way? We could sell it to someone else."
Specifically, Crown Resorts said that any reduction to their proposed tower and podium design (Block Y), which recently grew significantly under the latest modified proposal for the project (Modification 8), "would put the entire project at risk".
Modification 8 has now been approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment on the proviso that Waterman's Cove to the south of the Crown tower is reconfigured to increase the surrounding public promenade and improve access to the foreshore.
This was despite objections from the expert review panel appointed by Planning Minister Rob Stokes who said the combined effect of the new-look podium's proposed location and bulk "was not conducive to the achievement of coherent waterfront open space".
The review panel, comprising government architect Peter Poulet, Meredith Sussex and former AIA National President Shelley Penn, made a number of recommendations to planning back in November, one of which was to increase the set back the podium to allow a "single and continuous, waterfront public domain".
This has been ignored by planning, who instead allowed Crown to make changes to the podium that didn’t reduce its position or size. These included an altered façade treatment and a new recess on its western elevation
This has Shaun Carter particularly annoyed.
"I don't know why you'd have an expert panel and then disregard their advice," he says.
"The look of the building is not in question and the quality of the design is not in question, but the issue here is the planning of public domain versus private interest.
Waterfront address, MOD 4 compared to MOD 8. image: VirtualIdeas/JBA
Changes to the proposed podium include revised cladding and a seven-metre-wide recess. Image: Fairfax/Planning and Environment
While the development received the thumbs up by the NSW government it is yet to be approved by the Planning Assessment Commission. They’ll be the final hurdle for Crown who hopes to have the casino completed by 2020.
Other changes to the project under Mod 8 include a new observation deck, new Crown signage on the top of the tower and an increased size of the tower to 271 metres.