Location, design still a problem

PERTH’S Convention and Exhibition Centre is ugly and in the wrong place, according to some of the participants at a recent City Vision public forum.

City Vision chairman Ken Adam said it had been City Vision’s view all along that the centre “must be done well or not at all”.

“It should be an iconic building in an iconic setting. It must attract the world’s attention and conventions. It must join the city and the river and not add to the barrier that already exists,” Mr Adam said.

Emeritus Professor Martyn Webb said the centre would be in the wrong place.

“The original plan for Burswood Island included a convention and exhibition site,” Prof. Webb said.

“That was supposed to be the home for the Royal Agricultural Society’s showgrounds.”

However, there are few shops and hotels near Burswood Island.

Studies show the convention market prefers a site in a downtown location, close to both shops and hotels.

It is these industries the WA Government believes will most benefit from the $2.2 billion economic impact it expects the PCEC will produce over the first 10 years of its operation.

One of the sites most supported for the convention centre was on land between Wellington and Roe streets to the west of the Perth Railway Station.

It was thought building the centre on the site could have led to the sinking of the Perth to Fremantle railway line, once again rejoining the CBD with Northbridge.

However, it was considered the Nexus proposal – the only one to choose the Wellington Street site – would create more of a barrier than a link between the CBD and Northbridge.

There has also been controversy over the aesthetics of the design chosen by successful tenderer Multiplex.

The Leighton Contractors proposal, which did not even make the final bidding stage, scored highest in the aesthetic stakes.

However, it appears there is still room for significant modifications to the exterior of the Multiplex design.

WA Tourism Commission CEO Shane Crockett said public comment was being sought on the design.

“The degree of change could possibly be significant,” Mr Crockett said.

However, Mr Crockett said the functionality of the Multiplex-proposed centre was something the Government did not want to lose.

Architect Nigel Shaw said he became nervous when public consultation into something such as the convention centre was mentioned.

“The only thing that can be changed now is how the centre addresses its surrounds,” Mr Shaw said.

He said the centre could be used as the impetus to redevelop the roads along the Swan River foreshore.

Transport WA’s Emmerson Richardson said the site was excellent for vehicular access.

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