THE READER’S DIGEST IN SURRY HILLS: THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A HERITAGE BUILDING – AN ARCHITECT’S STORY ­ Members' Books ­ ISAA

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Members' Books

THE READER’S DIGEST IN SURRY HILLS: THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A HERITAGE BUILDING – AN ARCHITECT’S STORY

THE READER’S DIGEST IN SURRY HILLS: THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A HERITAGE BUILDING – AN ARCHITECT’S STORY

by John James

West Grinstead Publications (Aug 2019)  ISBN 978-0-9757425-5-6.

Seldom does an architect have the opportunity to explain how a heritage building was designed and funded, the role of the client and the importance of the building contractor. In the 1960s it was unusual for an architect to be both developer and financial consultant, arrange the land purchase and bring together one of the biggest lease-back contracts for that time. Though often bundled with a Brutalist label, it is an intensely humanitarian work in which every dimension was based on the Fibonacci series and the Golden Mean. The magnificent off-form concrete, and the unique double-spiral entry stairs demonstrate the very close cooperation between architect and builder, and the tradesmen they employed. The roof garden won prizes, and we all grieved when much of Doug Annand’s superb cast-iron was jettisoned when the American owners discovered what we were doing.

Now, fifty years later, the building is under threat from a developer who plans to knock out some of the brick panels. This would seriously compromise the exterior and its heritage status. I was drawn back to the building after half a century to defend what I had created and to conserve a work that is deeply loved by many people.