Frances Mao looks into “one of Australia’s largest contractors across the construction and infrastructure asset management and engineering services industries.” She discovers some less than positive truths.
As a rule of thumb, fucking things up is to be expected from a construction company. If you’ve ever used your own hands to do a DIY job, you’ll know that construction is a disaster waiting to happen. Fingers get jammed, hammers hit thumbs, and Bob the Builder’s catchphrase is “CAN WE FIX IT?” not “CAN WE GET IT RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY?”
Now, just because a stray Lend Lease crane brought shame to UTS, it doesn’t mean we want one of the world’s building giants to stop its work post-haste. We don’t want one of Australia’s largest companies to hit the wall, and it won’t. After all, they have some stunning architectural revelations in their portfolio including the Sydney Opera House, the Anzac Bridge, and the Ground Zero Memorial in New York.
But they do seem dogged by controversial cock ups and they’re behind most of the construction on campus. So here’s a look at some other things Lend Lease may have fucked up – purely for amusement’s sake.
The Other Crane
Hurricane Sandy, New York City. This transatlantic crane incident made news headlines in an odd precursor to the UTS incident. Buckling under torrential winds and pounded by the rains of the superstorm, the weakened construction crane slumped over beside the luxury apartments it had been working on and ended up dangling a precarious ninety storeys above the ground. Two very wealthy dentists then went and sued Lend Lease for negligence (I guess you can’t sue a hurricane) and the damage the crane did to their practice’s reputation. But don’t start getting crazy ideas about scrounging around in the UTS coffers for litigation money just yet…
Victorian Government Relations
Lend Lease totally fucked it up with the cool kids in Melbourne by hanging with its Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union (CFMEU) union buddies. Victorian premier, Ted Bailleu, tried to ban the group from receiving government work for the next four years for signing a contract with the union that breached new code regulations. The contract stipulated both restrictions on outside labour and minimum pay rates. Had they not been kicked out of the club, they would have probably gone on to host the $630 million party that was renovating Bendigo Hospital.
Predictions for Future Fuck Ups
In 2009, Lend Lease won the highly prized government contract for the construction of Barangaroo South (worth $6 billion), and then in 2012, the Darling Harbour’s Sydney Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct contract worth $1 billion. They now have roughly half of the CBD’s significant development in its hands. Rival developers have darkly muttered about this, and Lend Lease’s controversial proposal to return the Barangaroo waterfront to the public. The original development plans exceeded the area’s height restrictions and were criticised by sustainability and design experts for being too ‘fuggers’. Lend Lease then teamed up with James Packer to put a casino resort on Barangaroo land…
Like all buildings that aren’t designed in the classical Greek style, people tend to slap on the ‘fugly’, ‘decrepit’ or ‘aftermath of an earthquake’ tag without really examining the beauty of a building that resembles a crumpled paper bag, such as our very own Dr Chau Chak Wing Bulding. It was designed by Frank Gehry so others have called it fluid and undulating, as it already looks like it’s collapsed on its foundations. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Lend Lease were hired as builders. The $150 million budget has already blown out to $180 million because they’ll be utilising a more structurally sound method of constructing the building brick-by-brick.
So we can’t escape Lend Lease. It’s all around us, whether you’re up in the Tower or down in Markets. The uni could pass out mandatory hard hats but that would probably be overkill. Instead, next time you’re sitting around on the AstroTurf enjoying a coffee, you might want to look up. Just for a heads-up on that burning crane plummeting from the sky. Remember to sidestep and you’ll be fine.