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Original architect slams Sydney Exhibition Centre revamp

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Populous, Hassell and OMA’s £650 million redevelopment of Sydney’s Exhibition Centre has been slammed by the building’s original architects as an ‘act of vandalism’

The building and its neighbor, the John Andrews-designed Sydney Convention Centre, is due to be demolished to make way for a new convention centre, an OMA-designed hotel complex offering up to 900 hotel rooms, parkland and additional parking spaces.

The 1988 Cox Richardson-designed exhibition centre won the Sulman Medal for public architecture and hosted events during the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Philip Cox, designer of the original Exhibition Centre, slammed its demolition as ‘an act of vandalism’.

John Richardson, project director at Cox Richardson, said: ‘It is always difficult to generate respect for the immediate past. Many fine 20th century buildings have been lost or have been seriously altered, yet few buildings have been replaced by superior works.’

Highlighting the fact that the Sydney Exhibition Centre is listed by the AIA and the National Trust in Australia, Richardson said: ‘The Exhibition Building is considered by some to be a masterpiece [while] the Convention Centre holds an important 20th century art collection specifically tailored for the building.’

Richardson claimed the new development provided only 900m2 more retail space than the current facility. He also argued the scheme would reduce column-free exhibition space by 8,000m2 and provide 3,500 fewerentertainment seats.

Richardson said: ‘The replacement scheme is a waste of public money. The whole exercise makes no commercial sense.’

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