There is a saying that you can't please all of the people all of the time. When it comes to town planning, architectural design and civic art, for those given the responsibility of making sure our communities and everything within them are functional are safe, pleasing the people is a relatively easy task. But when it comes to ensuring everything is asthetically pleasing - that's a different story. Within the community at large, there is a general consensus as to what is acceptable and what is not, and usually that leans towards the conservative. Unfortunately those who tend to fall outside of the general consensus are those with an artistic flare, who think outside of the square, and by the very nature of who they are, often end up setting the pace in fashion and design. What is bold, daring, innovative and fashionable to them is more often that not downright ugly, or the very best, confronting, to the rest of us. How long it takes for the voice of the silent majority (or their representaives - the Government) to demand the removal of their creations from the landscape depends on how bold and daring their creations are, and whether or not what is new and innovate becomes old and normal or just plain old and ugly.
Then there are those who are passionate about progress - their philosophy is that newer, bigger, taller and "state of the art" is better, their tool of trade is the bulldozer. When it comes to progress, the community at large again leans towards the conservative. They are comfortable with familiar surroundings, and object to destroying what is there already in the name of progess for progess's sake alone. Time alone tells whether those who build in the name of progress get it right, and whether what they created was indeed progress or just change for change's sake.
Another reason why things that were once loved become unloved is that every generation is different from the one it follows, and what is seen as innovative, new and neccesary by one generation won't always be seen that way by the next. Such was the case with the Sydney Monorail. In the 1980s, the concept of whisking people silently around the city above the crowded, narrow streets was seen as progressive, innovative and futuristic. By the time the future became the present, however, the Monorail had become a liability rather than an asset. It was perceived as a gimmick and a fad whose novelty had disipated over time; at best a tourist attraction, and at worst, a white elephant and an eyesore that had damaged the streetscape. Ironically, the Monorail was replaced by trams, a mode of transport disposed of 50 years earlier by a generation of Government officials who believed trams were old fashioned and had no place in a modern, progressive city.
Long regarded as the ugly duckling of the Sydney's transport network, the monorail hit peak popularity levels on its last operational day with people vying to be a part of its last ride through the city before it was torn down. Sadly it just never did quite fit in with the hustle and bustle of big city living.
Blues Point Tower
Whenever a list of Sydney's ugliest buildings is compiled, Blues Point Tower inevitably scores top billing, and every few years someone somewhere calls for it to be torn down. It was planned to be the first of 28 smiliar high rise buildings for the area. The residents of Sydney had other ideas.
The Masonic Centre
Squatting for decades as a big, brutal presence on the corner of Castlereagh and Goulburn streets, the Masonic Centre is one of the most controversial buildings in Sydney. It is also one of the finest examples of "love-it-or-hate-it" Brutalist architecture which had its brief heyday in the 1970s.
When East Circular Quay was being re-developed in the 1990s, one building in the project came to represent everything that opponents of the scheme hated about it. They gave it the nickname, "The Toaster", an uncomplimentary name that the building is still know by today.
Sydneysiders today walk past the many intricate carvings on our precious old buildings without so much as giving them a second look. Such was not the case when the GPO were being erected, its decorations raising the ire of the populace because they depicted contemporary people at work.
Goulburn Street Parking Stn.
It has been said to look like a giant chest of drawers that is about to spill its contents over the railway tracks below it. Its precarious look is an optical illusion caused by a combination of the natural slope of the land and the disorted view one gets when looking up from street level.
The Cahill Expressway
Completed in 1957, it is a vital road and rail transport link built on the city's most valuable piece of real estate. It is extremely functional though rather ugly, and would never have been allowed to be built in a more environmentally and aesthetically conscious era like today.
The Cross City Tunnel
The Cross City Tunnel is a much-maligned, privately funded and operated 2.1 km-long twin-tunnel tollway under the City Centre. It was predicted to fail before construction even began. A decade after its opening, the tunnel had failed to reach even 50% of the forecast traffic levels.
This iconic pebblecrete-coated example of 1970s Brutaliam architecture has been described as "the ungainly middle finger on Broadway, evidence that modernist architects in the 1960s were out of touch with humanity, complicit in an architectural 'up yours' to all things beautiful".