New role for Government Architect essential after 200 years

On the 1st March 1816, exactly 200 years ago today, Francis Greenway was appointed the first NSW Government Architect and 200 years later a new role that provides leadership in the quality of urban architecture while supporting the private sector is needed, says the Urban Taskforce.

“Francis Greenway arrived in Sydney town to the chaos of a penal settlement with little civic order and he set out along with Governor Macquarie to make Sydney a proud civilised town with quality public buildings and civic squares,” says Urban Taskforce CEO and former NSW Government Architect Chris Johnson. “200 years on from Greenway’s time a new challenge arises as urban densities in Sydney increase and the quality of the public realm needs a champion.”

“In 2016 the role of government has changed dramatically since 1816 with many roles originally the sole province of government are now undertaken by the private sector. Much of what we see as being public; the roads, rail, busses, ferries, airports and urban squares are now delivered by the private sector. There are some roles that government still needs to influence and this includes strategic planning and the assurance of quality in the built environment.”

“The Urban Taskforce has supported the role of the NSW Government Architect over the last 15 years by having the current holder of the title as the Chair of the Urban Taskforce Development Excellence Awards Jury. This has blended government and private sector approaches to design and innovation along with risk taking and economic success.”

“The new role of the NSW Government Architect must be more strategic by co-ordinating government design policy across various departments. The role must respect the private sector’s risk taking role by encouraging innovation and supporting the private sector’s ability to deliver projects.

“The Urban Taskforce also encourages the Sydney community to understand what has been achieved over 200 years by viewing the exhibition at the State Library ‘IMAGINE A CITY – 200 Years of Public Architecture in NSW’ to see just what has been achieved over the last 200 years.”

“We also acknowledge the role of Australia’s first developer, Governor Lachlan Macquarie who built over 250 buildings in 10 years. At one new building every 2 weeks Macquarie was a developer of great importance and a significant nation builder. The current development industry aspires to follow the spirit of Macquarie and Greenway and produce buildings that proudly add to Australia’s heritage.”

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