Little Bits of History

It’s Not Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 10, 2010

Jørn Utzon

April 10, 1918: Jørn Utzon is born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was a Danish architect and the son of a naval engineer. He studied at The Royal Academy in Copenhagen, getting an architectural degree in 1942. He has won awards for his architectural genius including a Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the highest award in the field.

In 1957 he won a competition for the design of an opera house with scheme number 218. It was his first project outside of Denmark. He won despite the fact that his drawings were little more than preliminary sketches. He made major changes to the design over the years and developed the method for constructing the large shells of the opera building. He also designed several other large projects over the course of his lifetime.

By 1964, Utzon had the pre-cast ribs for the specially designed shells ready to be installed. They shell design was based on complex sections of spheres and the design used was the twelfth attempt to create the visually dramatic skyline. The visual impact of the structure makes it one of the buildings UNESCO World Heritage Committee has listed as a World Heritage Site. With a new Liberal Government voted into power in 1965, it all came to a crashing halt. Utzon’s special plans for the interior were quashed.

The completion of the opera house took sixteen years. Upon its completion in 1973, Queen Elizabeth II herself opened this brilliant piece of construction to the public. But Utzon has never seen his work completed. He has not visited Australia since 1966 after conflicts with the new Minister of Works over cost overruns and delays in construction forced Utzon to resign. What building? The Sydney Opera House, one of the world’s most recognizable structures.

For a virtual tour of this fantastic creation, click here. You will be able to enter the buildings, look around, and wonder at the beauty of this architectural delight. Click on the little yellow balls and watch what happens.

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” – Frank Gehry

“Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol, but every human thought has its page in that vast book.” – Victor Hugo

“Architecture aims at Eternity.” – Christopher Wren

“I’ve spent 15 years in arts marketing and arts management in the US and the Sydney Opera House really is the pinnacle.” – Naomi Grabel

Also on this day, in 1866 the ASPCA was founded.

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