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SYDNEY 20 Oct 2013 Opera House turns 40
At 35, the Sydney Opera House faced replacement. At 40, the city’s sail-like landmark on the harbor appears set to weather a few more decades before talk of rep

October 20, 2013 - NULL

SYDNEY 20 Oct 2013 Opera House turns 40
At 35, the Sydney Opera House faced replacement. At 40, the city's sail-like landmark on the harbor appears set to weather a few more decades before talk of replacing it begins again. The threat rested on the argument that building a new one would be cheaper than renovating the existing one. Designed by the late Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the unique structure was deemed to have become such a symbol of Sydney that there was no choice but to renovate it. It will turn 40 with improvements - the completion of a

SYDNEY 20 Oct 2013 Opera House turns 40
At 35, the Sydney Opera House faced replacement. At 40, the city's sail-like landmark on the harbor appears set to weather a few more decades before talk of replacing it begins again. The threat rested on the argument that building a new one would be cheaper than renovating the existing one. Designed by the late Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the unique structure was deemed to have become such a symbol of Sydney that there was no choice but to renovate it. It will turn 40 with improvements - the completion of a multi-year project to bring it fully into the 21st Century.

The Opera House brings in around 7.4 million visitors every year, and the latest upgrade is aimed at giving them a "revitalised ... experience," according to the description of the project. Significant structural work has increased the size of the orchestra pit and wing space. New stage machinery and air-conditioning have been installed, and the acoustics of the Concert Hall have been upgraded. The latest project, a.US $152-million upgrade started in 2011, provides a tunnel to a new underground loading dock. The upgrade will divert delivery vehicles underneath the forecourt.

The Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 Oct 1973, with fireworks and a huge crowd of onlookers. With its nesting concrete shells that billow like the sails on Sydney Harbor, it has been a source of arguments and great national pride since Utzon won the international competition to design it in 1957. The arguments started during the building phase. No one, including the architect, knew how to translate the visionary design into construction documents. Endless modifications, compromises and cost overruns stretched a four-year building project into 16 years. On 28 Feb 1966 Utzon resigned in disgust with politicians' meddling and left the country. Another architectural team was appointed to bring it to completion. Utzon later famously described the situation as "Malice in Blunderland." The government called his firm back in 1999 when wear and tear -- and the obsolescence of some of the Opera House's features -- made repairs and restoration an urgent issue.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 2003 Utzon received the Pritzker Prize, international architecture's highest honor. (WRITTEN DEC 2012)

RELATED READING:

Sydney Opera House
http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/

Opera House under renovation (IBT 13 Jul 2010)
http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/35016/20100713/opera-house-under-renovation.htm

Let's rethink this renovation, and build a new opera house (SMH 7 Feb 2008)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/lets-rethink-this-renovation-and-build-a-new-opera-house/2008/02/06/1202233942886.html

In praise -- and not -- of follies (WSJ 15 May 2008)
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121080294195393107.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

UN Lists India fort, Sydney Opera as heritage sites (Reuters 27 Jun 2007)
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2007-06-28T101159Z_01_SYD218050_RTRIDST_0_SCIENCE-HERITAGE-UNESCO-DC.XML&pageNumber=1!id=)"=&sz=13&WTModLoc=NewsArt-C1-ArticlePage

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/stage/sydney-opera-house-renames-theatre-after-joan-sutherland/story-fn9d344c-1226497158840

Date written/update: 2013-10-20