Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Imagine working on something unique for most of your life and when it is finally completed, not being able to see the finished product. The vision of the Sidney Opera House has never seen it finished. It is one of the most distinguishable buildings in the world. It is more a sculpture than a building but has become a symbol of Australia.
A photograph alone does not do it justice since the inside is as unique as the outside. It is one of the few buildings in the world that people from all over the world go to Australia just to see the place and who doesn’t care much about what is being shown in any of the five theaters in it. The Opera House has 7 million visitors a year, a fraction of the people have tickets to a show there.
The structure is 22 stories high, 67 thousand square feet of specially designed glass. It is covered in ceramic tiles imported from Sweden. 1,056,006 tiles to be exact cover the exterior roofs. There was a competition in 1955 like all the you stink competitions we see on TV every day now, where your dreams and aspirations can be voted off leaving you to question your own identity and talents.
The chief judge was a Finish-American, architect Eero Saarinen. He did not like the final entries and demanded to look at the reject pile of drawings. He pulled out entry No.218 which were the drawings from 38 year old, Danish Architect, Joren Utzon. Joren was the final decision. The problem was that there wasn’t the technology available to build the thing.
Finding a way to support the sail like roofs did not exist. The engineer looked at many different methods to build his plans and decided that the project couldn’t be realized. Impossible. It took 10,000 construction workers and a lot more time and money to figure out how it was to be built. Instead of a planned 3 years, it took 14 years to build. Instead of 7million dollars it cost 102 million dollars to build.
In the process, the city government curtailed Utzon’s authority so, he left and took his family back to Denmark. The building finished by a committee finally opened in 1973 with Queen Elizabeth at the opening. The complex with 5 theaters, has been host to more than 100,000 live performances from opera to pop concerts. In 1999, the Architect Utzon, finally got the recognition he deserved. Too old now to travel, he died never seeing the completed building. Now it is dedicated to his legacy. The symbol of Australia.

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