The Saga of the Sydney Opera House: The Dramatic Story of the Design and Construction of the Icon of Modern Australia

By Peter Murray | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

THE TURN OF THE SCREW

In August 1964, Utzon visited Zurich for the Schauspielhaus project and then Berlin to confer with Cremer. On his way back to Sydney he stopped off in London to meet with Zunz and Arup. In a plain-speaking meeting with 'occasional banging of fists', Utzon sought the London office's support in his shaky relationship with Lewis and his team.

Afterwards Zunz wrote to Lewis: 'He is nettled at the thought of our not supporting him in handling Stage 3. He put up very powerful arguments to support his case and insists…we support him loyally as he has supported us in Stages 1 and 2. We should do this.' It was important that the two teams should show a united front 'provided it does not conflict with our basic responsibilities to the client.' Zunz continued.

Utzon was particularly keen to arrange a negotiated contract on the supply of various plywood elements for Stage 3-in particular the auditoria ceilings, rehearsal room interiors, corridor panelling and the glass wall mullions. The Government did not like negotiated contracts, preferring them to go out to tender; negotiated contracts laid them open to criticism from disappointed suppliers and could be misinterpreted.

Utzon had told Zunz that he was quite willing to agree with the Premier's demand for firm tenders where possible, but that he would have to advise him that the job would consequently be delayed. However, Zunz wrote, 'there is no doubt a strong basis for the argument that with some suppliers he should be given powers to negotiate.'

The Labor Government had, however, agreed to a negotiated contract with Hornibrook for Stage 2, and entered a management contract with them when it was clear that there was not enough information on which contractors would tender, but to wait for sufficient information would have led to an unacceptable increase in the programme. With hindsight it would

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The Saga of the Sydney Opera House: The Dramatic Story of the Design and Construction of the Icon of Modern Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Dramatis Personae ix
  • Important Dates xii
  • Introduction xv
  • Chapter 1 - A Magnificent Doodle 1
  • Chapter 2 - Collaboration and Creativity 23
  • Chapter 3 - The Move to Sydney 39
  • Chapter 4 - A Quart into a Pint Pot 52
  • Chapter 5 - The Turn of the Screw 72
  • Chapter 6 - 'You Have Forced Me to Leave' 92
  • Chapter 7 - The Aftermath 115
  • Chapter 8 - Ars Longa, Vita Brevis 136
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 160
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