The City of Sydney today released an updated design for Cloud Arch – its ambitious new public artwork outside Sydney Town Hall, to be built by March 2019.
Designed by visionary Japanese artist and architect Junya Ishigami, Cloud Arch is a majestic steel arch that will soar 58 metres above George Street and increase Sydney’s pulling power on the global tourism stage, similar to Chicago’s Cloud Gate and St Louis’ Gateway Arch.
When complete, the sculpture will span from the QVB across George Street to the intersection with Park Street, with light rail and pedestrians moving underneath.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the construction of Cloud Arch symbolises the moment the city centre finally becomes a people’s place.
“Making our city work better for the people in it every day has been a key priority over the last decade and the light rail project is a big part of that,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Light rail and the transformation of George Street finally gives our city centre a true people’s place where the pedestrianised George Street meets Sydney Town Hall and our new Sydney Square.
“Our residents and businesses have consistently told us they want more public artwork. Cloud Arch is our gift to the people of Sydney – a stunning marker of the day the city is finally handed back to its people.
“Cloud Arch is the most significant artwork to be built in Australia for decades and will help raise our city’s profile on the world stage. It will become a symbol for Sydney and a popular drawcard for residents, workers, tourists and visitors.
The updated design includes an arch that is almost doubled in size after a number of technical challenges with the initial design.
Complex technical constraints beneath George Street have altered the location of the footings which in turn required alterations to the artwork’s structure. The unforeseen constraints related to rail tunnels, retail tunnels, the Cross City Tunnel and major underground services. Further challenges have arisen due to the light rail construction work and the City’s ability to access the site while construction works take place.
The loop of the arch has also been enhanced to better frame Sydney Town Hall, the QVB and important monuments and buildings at the heart of the city.
The new design and cost of materials, including the 140 tonnes of steel for the larger arch and a 43 per cent rise in global steel prices since December 2015, means the cost of the project has increased from $3.5 million to $11.3 million.
City staff have proposed that the increase in cost could be covered by postponing and using funds set aside for Hany Armanious’ Pavilion artwork and re-allocating savings from the public domain budget – a result of a number of voluntary planning agreements that the City struck with developers.
By comparison, the cost to install Chicago’s Cloud Gate was AUD $39.2 million and St Louis’ Gateway Arch was AUD $24 million in 1965.
Councillors will consider a report detailing the updated design at a Council meeting on Tuesday 29 August.
“The value that this artwork will add to the city centre cannot be underestimated,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The additional investment will be repaid many times over through the hundreds of thousands of visitors that will visit Sydney to view the artwork, dine at nearby eateries and spend money at local businesses, boosting the local economy.
“It will become one of the most photographed landmarks in our city and add to Sydney’s standing as one of the world’s great cultural capitals.”
Business, arts and community figures have voiced their support for Cloud Arch and its potential to enhance Sydney’s standing on the world stage.
Sydney Business Chamber Executive Director Patricia Forsythe said: “We congratulate the City of Sydney for its commitment to public art in the city. Art is always subjective and the fact is, this sculpture will be a major talking point and will enhance the city’s pulling power. We know Cloud Arch will be of interest to visitors and will add to the many attractions that Sydney has to offer.”
Mirvac CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said: “Public art can really make a place come to life; it’s capable of transforming otherwise ordinary places into living landmarks, drawing visitors and defining areas where people gather and meet.”
Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry AO said: “I think cities improve both liveability and attractiveness to visitors by incorporating art into public space. It shifts perception, delights visually and great cities support artists by showcasing their work.”
Art Gallery of NSW Director Dr Michael Brand said: “The increase in the scale of Ishigami’s proposed design greatly adds to its appeal and promises to be even more compelling that the original concept. I have no doubt it will bring significant international attention to Sydney.”
Museum of Contemporary Art Director Elizabeth Ann McGregor said: “Such works of art have the capacity to be game changers, attracting attention well beyond the immediate environment. The inevitable difficulties in delivering them are quickly outweighed by the impact – all the initial criticism of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North is long forgotten, as it has become the symbol of the regeneration of the City of Gateshead in the UK.”
Penelope Seidler AM said: “Cloud Arch will be the most exciting design to emerge on the Sydney scene since the Opera House. I know it will become a Sydney icon. The sculpture demands views from all angles, it is puzzling and beautiful as well as an engineering masterpiece.”
Committee for Sydney Chairman Michael Rose AM said: “We’re really pleased to hear that the City of Sydney has decided to proceed with the Cloud Arch. We think it’s going to be an extraordinary piece of public sculpture, that’s going to define an important part of the city. We’re looking forward to seeing it and are sure that it’s going to become a much loved part of our city.”
John Kaldor AO said: “Cloud Arch is a sublime work arching towards the sky defining Sydney’s ambition. It is a great example of what public art can offer.”
Sydney Community Foundation Chair Michael Lynch AO CBE said: “Junya Ishigami has created an architectural wonder work for a very important piece of public space in a city that needs to lift its spirits and aspire to better and kinder ways of building our town. I love the imagination and aspiration behind this work.”
Grasshopper Bar owner Martin O’Sullivan said: “Art draws people to the city and the more people we have in the city, the more money is spent at small businesses. We’ve seen the impact public art can have with Art & About. It also changes the way people move around the city and their perceptions of its liveability. Cloud Arch will be another reason for people from interstate and overseas to visit Sydney.”
The Grounds co-founder and creative director Ramzey Choker said: “Supporting the growth of the CBD through this iconic landmark will continue to evolve Sydney’s experience and inject life into our city. It demonstrates that we are invested in creativity, culture and building communities.”
Once approved, construction of Cloud Arch is expected to be complete before March 2019.
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