Public design defies conventions

Over $110 million of your money is about to be spent to plunk a huge convention centre cum soccer stadium in central Perth.

Want to know more? Sorry, according to Planning Minister Norman Moore, just because it is public money for a visually dominant public building does not mean the public should have a look-see before the location and design are set in concrete or steel or brick or...

The Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and soccer stadium and performing arts centre and banquet facility (really!) is not only on the drawing boards but nearing final selection by a very private task force under the Minister’s control.

Finding out what is really going on is not easy in a closed-to-the-public process but this appears to be the story so far.

Perth, with its glorious and unique setting, could be a lucrative convention city, bringing in international megabucks for the hospitality, retail, entertainment, and leisure industries.

Expressions of interest to design and construct a convention centre led to three consortia being chosen to provide detailed proposals/tenders for the project. One has been put on the bench; two proceeded.

The Minister decided, as promised to Perth Glory interests, that a soccer stadium must be attached to the convention centre. Picture it – a vast sports stadium stuck onto a beautiful iconic convention centre. A design nightmare.

Also picture the human dynamic when the losing team soccer fans spill out of the stadium and come face to face with the international convention of gynecologists. Back home those gynaes will dine out on the likely gory story for years; great PR for Perth.

The government-nominated sites – Wellington Street beside the bus station and Entertainment Centre or beside the Esplanade busport on top of the car park – seem reasonable locations for a convention centre with happy visitors milling around hotels, shops, restaurants, etc.

Now add a soccer stadium. Oh dear. On Wellington Street? Or by the foreshore?

Someone asks: “Why do we have to build a new stadium at all? What is wrong with upgrading the WACA or Perth Oval, loved sports grounds already part of our city’s heritage?

Because the Minister says – new stadium, attached to the convention centre.

While you are at the drawing boards, add in a stand-alone performing arts centre and a banqueting facility for 2,500 people.

Whoa, this is bigger than the Coliseum – in central Perth.

We peasants excluded from all these decisions might begin to wonder who is driving this juggernaut. Follow the money.

Who would most benefit by a sports stadium and performing arts centre, lucrative sources for high revenue TV programming, at the existing Entertainment Centre site owned by Channel 7?

Kerry Stokes is one of the three contenders for the project.

This megamillion icon for Perth is looking ugly already.

• Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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