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2008 Corporate Media Release - Idea to Icon

Issued Monday, 26 May 2008

Sydney Opera House idea to icon

Sydney Opera House today announced the release of a new book about one of the world’s most admired and photographed buildings. Through text, images and drawings, author and publisher Michael Moy details the history and engineering of Australia’s most recognised building.

“Sydney Opera House turns 35 this year and this latest book captures its history and unique design through anecdote, description and image,“ said Sydney Opera House Chief Executive, Richard Evans.

“Michael Moy commenced his research by asking himself the question, ‘What is the book I would like to buy?’ With his background as a teacher of mathematics and physics, his technical descriptions of the engineering and construction of Sydney Opera House are easy to grasp and his natural curiosity about the human side of the building has led him to uncover many stories of vision, opposition, courage and even tragedy.”

Sydney Opera House idea to icon covers the history of Bennelong Point from the arrival of the First Fleet just off its shore, as the site of a house built by Governor Phillip for his aboriginal envoy, Bennelong, as convict-designed Fort Macquarie and later as a utilitarian tram depot.

Whereas every single rivet hole of the Harbour Bridge was planned before work commenced on its construction, such was the political urgency to get the Opera House project underway, no-one was completely sure Jørn Utzon’s soaring sail-like shells could be built the way he had drawn them. Moy uses photographs by Max Dupain and Ern McQuillan, some of which have never been published, along with detailed drawings by Yuzo Mikami who worked with Utzon on the project, to explain how the impossible became possible and then extraordinary.

While the personal story of Utzon is central, Moy acknowledges other men of vision and passion without whom the Opera House would have just been another design competition entry. Sydney Symphony Orchestra conductor Eugene Goossens, Premier Joe Cahill, and engineer Ove Arup were a few of the people vital to the completion of the building.  Of course, no story about Sydney Opera House is complete without an examination of the politics behind the architect’s departure, the difficulties around the completion of the project, Utzon’s re-engagement by then NSW Premier Carr, and finally, in 2007, World Heritage Listing.

A separate section lists Sydney Opera House facts, figures, trivia and tragedy. For example, the tip of the highest shell is 9m above the deck of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the first concert was by black American political activist Paul Robeson who sang to workers during their lunch break in November 1960 and Moy recounts the tragic story of an Opera House Lottery winner.

Sydney Opera House idea to icon is available from Sydney Opera House shops. The hardback book is ideally sized for tourists – 22cm by 15cm – and makes the perfect souvenir for any visitor.

Sydney Opera House idea to icon
Published by Alpha Orion Press $19.95 RRP

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Sydney Opera House

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