Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre
Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre is a fitness centre in Ultimo, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. It has three swimming pools, exercise machines, and other facilities. The centre is co-managed by the City of Sydney and Belgravia Leisure. Named for swimming champion Ian Thorpe, it was one of the last buildings designed by architect Harry Seidler, and is noted for its curved roof design that suggests a breaking ocean wave.
In 2000 the city announced a design competition for the project, then called the Ultimo Aquatic Centre and Public Space. After receiving about 100 entries, the open competition was scrapped, and a new competition was held among three invited firms. In late 2001, a jury chose Harry Seidler's firm to continue with the project.
Construction was delayed due to budgetary and other concerns until 2004, when new Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the city council, responding to an energetic campaign of local residents, reversed their prior position and decided to go ahead with the full plan (then budgeted at $40 million) that had been initiated under former Lord Mayor Frank Sartor, rather than a curtailed $25 million plan that had been adopted under the intervening administration of Lucy Turnbull. The project was renamed in honor of Australia's Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe.
Since its completion, the building has been described as an important example of Seidler's architecture. Philip Drew wrote that it was a "climax" of his work, "meshing the severely functional and the playfully sensuous." Architecture critic Elizabeth Farrelly, who had been critical of Seidler's design when it was selected, was more positive about the final result: she noted some awkwardness in the design, including its undefined entry and narrow changing spaces, but praised its "experiential qualities". In 2013, Farrelly included it on her list of the "five best buildings in Sydney", stating that while she found the external wave metaphor "slightly silly", the interior is "a breathtakingly beautiful room". The building received an International Architecture Award in 2009.
- Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre official website (accessed 2014-02-06).
- Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, City of Sydney (accessed 2014-02-06).
- Stephen Lacey, "Harry Seidler: Australia's king of concrete and curves", The Guardian, December 10, 2013.
- "Harry Seidler wins Ultimo Aquatic Centre Architectural Competition", City of Sydney, December 21, 2001.
- Elizabeth Farrelly, "The ripples flowing from Seidler's pool", Sydney Morning Herald, May 7, 2002.
- Darren Goodsir, "Thorpe pool gets nod after a few false starts", Sydney Morning Herald, November 2, 2004.
- "Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre: A Victory for Citys Western Fringe!" City of Sydney, November 2, 2004.
- Justin Norrie, "Hands-on Thorpe at new pool", The Age, December 14, 2006.
- "Pool crowned with Seidler's farewell", The Australian, August 23, 2007.
- "Sydney's Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre open", Sydney Morning Herald, August 26, 2007.
- "10 Things you should know about Harry Seidler", Dwell, June 2008, p. 126.
- Philip Drew, "Functional meets the playful", The Australian, August 23, 2007.
- Elizabeth Farrelly, "Cool pool, Harry, but where's the front door?", Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 2007.
- "The five best buildings in Sydney", Sydney Morning Herald, November 14, 2013.
- "Australian firms win at International Architecture Awards", Australian Design Review, September 15, 2009.