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Enfilade and Intrafilament, the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square


In August 1968 when the National Gallery of Victoria in St Kilda Road was opened, reviews were mixed. From the public perspective, the building, designed by the Melbourne architect Roy Grounds, was an overwhelmingly popular success.1 Responses to the National Gallery of Victoria in the popular press were extremely positive. See Age, 21 August 1968, pp. 5,18; Herald, 21 August 1968, p.6; and Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 1968, p.2. The Age, 21 August 1968, p. 5, headed its editorial ‘A City Enriched’ and paid tribute to the architect Roy Grounds and the building committee. It also praised the Victorian Government for funding the project so generously: ‘The National Gallery is the first major public building erected by a Victorian Government in over 50 years. It cannot be written off as a cynical political bid to buy a passport to cultural respectability. The Government has acted with wisdom and generosity, and this State is immeasurably richer as a result. For the very best of reasons, the Bolte Government has written itself into the history of the arts in Australia. We are all in their debt’. From the art and architectural professions, there was hot debate, largely over the way the building looked, and how the art inside it was displayed.2 Critical responses from the art and architecture professions were mostly negative, peppered with some praise. The quantity of criticism was such that, in itself, this was an indication of the building’s importance. Melbourne’s most prominent architectural voice, Robin Boyd (1919–1971), was, however, diplomatically silent. For a range of views see Cross-Section, vol. 191. September 1968; L. Orton, ‘New National Gallery of Victoria’, Architect, September–October 1968, p. 16; D. Saunders, ‘Appraisal’, Architecture in Australia, October 1968, pp. 783–5; D. Watson, ‘The door of perception – impressions of an opening’, Architecture in Australia, October 1968, pp. 786–92; and the entire December 1968 issue of Art and Australia which was devoted to the NGV with commentaries from the various NGV curators, and another review by David Saunders. With the opening of the new Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, the reviews will be decidedly different. It will be a popular success. From the art world there will be relief and excitement. From the architectural profession there will be, as always, diplomatic criticism, for herein lies the productive dilemma that arises when architects design art galleries. There is, almost always, a tension between the aims of the art, often regarded as the most progressive, even avant-garde, statement on contemporary culture at the time of its production, and the parallel aims of its accommodation.

Architecture can readily take on a polemical role, and the gallery or museum project is often treated as an ideal invitation to express personal visions for the world. When art and architecture compete, the art is almost certain to lose out.3The Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiralling snail on Fifth Avenue, is the most celebrated, now clichéd, example of architecture victorious. This is not to denigrate the numerous, truly great art galleries or museums which are also fine works of architecture such as the Museum of the Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy, 1956, by Carlo Scarpa; Louisiana Art Gallery, Klampenborg, Denmark, 1991, by Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert; Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1972, and Yale Centre for the Study of British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, 1974, by Louis Kahn; and the East Wing of the National Gallery, Washington DC, 1978, by I. M. Pei. A complicating factor is that the art gallery often has permanent collections as part of its establishment charter. In displaying such collections, especially if they predate c. 1920, the task of the gallery is also as historical documenter. There is, inevitably, a spatial morphology that accompanies such exhibits, and the best understood, and now almost archetypal, gallery plan is the enfilade (a plan where one proceeds from room to room without corridor or passage) that reached its point of refinement in the Parisian hôtel (townhouse) of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and its apotheosis in the Palace of the Louvre.4 M. Dennis, Court and Garden: From the French Hotel to the City of Modern Architecture, Cambridge, Mass., 1986. NGV Australia sits carefully poised between the satisfaction of both art/curatorial and architectural polemics. To use a fashionable term, it mediates between two desires: the conventional housing and viewing spaces of art, and the wish to explore complex architectural ideas beyond mere function to announce an artistic rather than solely functional provenance.

The National Gallery of Victoria was never part of the original 1996 competition brief for Federation Square nor did it form part of the Stage 2 winning scheme by Lab architecture studio, the London-based partnership of Donald Bates, an American, and Peter Davidson, an expatriate Australian.5 Architects Peter Davidson and Donald Bates established Lab architecture studio in London in 1994. Peter Davidson (born 1955) graduated in architecture from the NSW Institute of Technology in 1980. He moved to London in 1981 and worked as editorial assistant on International Architect, the journal owned and edited by expatriate Australians Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper. For ten years he operated a sole practice and taught at the Architectural Association and Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Donald Bates (born 1953) graduated in architecture from the University of Houston in 1978 and in 1980 he completed a master’s degree at the Cranbrook Academy of Art under the direction of architect Daniel Libeskind. Bates acted as associate architect to Libeskind on the Berlin City Edge competition entry in 1987 and the Berlin Museum competition entry (now known as the Jewish Museum) in 1989. He taught at the Architectural Association in London from 1983 to 1989 and from 1993 to 1995, and founded the independent architectural school, the Laboratory of Primary Studies in Architecture (LoPSiA) in 1990, operating in Paris and at the Le Corbusier-designed Unité d’Habitation at Briey-en-Forét. It was only after the intervention of Liberal premier Jeff Kennett that the NGV officially became part of the brief when he announced its inclusion at the same time that the competition winners were announced in July 1997. This achieved two things: it relieved financial and spatial pressures on the projected refurbishment of the NGV in St Kilda Road,6 The alterations and additions to the NGV International in St Kilda Road are being undertaken by Italian architect Mario Bellini in association with the Melbourne firm Metier III. and it breathed new piquancy into the massive project of Federation Square. The inclusion of the NGV, however, did not mean that the architects changed their overall design philosophy. There was no need, given the inherent flexibility of the original concept.

In Stage 1 of the competition the buildings across the entire site were conceived as a non-hierarchical field of fragmented and gently cranked, elongated blocks or ‘filaments’, housing a range of public and commercial functions. The spaces between the filaments, the ‘intrafilament’ spaces, were intended to evoke the character of Melbourne’s laneways. They were to be an inversion of the city’s broad streets and grand boulevards, human-scaled and intimate. In Stage 2 of the competition when Lab architecture studio was shortlisted and joined by Bates Smart as joint venture partners on the project, the filaments were rationalised into larger elements. After the rather sudden announcement of the inclusion of the NGV in the project, the architects determined swiftly that it be located on the eastern edge of the site.

The final design of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia developed as two major, north–south filaments containing galleries over three levels: one straight block, oriented almost due north and, hence, at an angle to the city grid, the other block doubly cranked, almost as if it were tied around the other and bent to align both with the grid and with true north. The spaces between the dual filaments, the intrafilament spaces, became major circulation spaces or crossing points between the galleries. They are also voids that cut through the building; Piranesian spaces of bridges, people, and visual relief – a dramatic counter to the enfilade plan contained within each filament.

Steering the project on behalf of the NGV for three years during its gestation was Frances Lindsay, the then recently appointed deputy director. As the former director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Lindsay had overseen that building to its completion in 1998.7 With architect Nonda Katsalidis, Lindsay had successfully engineered for the university a series of six, international-standard gallery spaces, also arranged to either side of an intrafilament space – a four-storey atrium containing the main stair and Napier Waller’s stained-glass Leckie Window, 1935, from the original Wilson Hall. L. van Schaik, ‘Street credentials’, Architecture Australia, September–October 1998, pp. 50–5. At Federation Square, Lindsay was determined to achieve the same level of quality; it would also be a chance, for the first time in Australia, to design a major gallery based entirely on a collection of Australian art rather than have to accommodate an Australian collection as an accompanying context to international art and collections inherited as private bequests.8 In many respects it was the complex nature of the collections of the NGV that dictated the complex design response offered by architect Roy Grounds (1905–81) in his 1960 design for St Kilda Road. The NGV collections of oriental art, antiquities, glass and decorative arts, as well as the need for substantial amounts of storage, and the inclusion of the Great Hall and a temporary exhibition space, precluded the straightforward design of a building based around a single collection. For a detailed description of the history and development of the design of the NGV in St Kilda Road, see Philip Goad, ‘An oriental palazzo: Roy Grounds and the National Gallery of Victoria’, Backlogue 3, 1999, pp. 72–105 and Allom Lovell & Associates and Philip Goad, National Gallery of Victoria: Conservation Management Plan, prepared for the trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, January 1995. There was also the opportunity to highlight the NGV’s unique collections of historic and contemporary Indigenous art.9 At Federation Square the problem of storage of works of art has also been removed. The Victorian Archive Centre, 2001, a new and very large storage facility designed by Bates Smart, has been built in Shiel Street, North Melbourne to serve both NGV Australia and NGV International, and the Public Records Office.

The results are breathtaking. The main entry to the new gallery is from Flinders Street, through the vast wintergarden atrium. It is rather like entering from within one of Melbourne’s nineteenth-century, glazed shopping arcades, but at the scale of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Here, as with the entire fabric of Federation Square, the architects encourage the visitor to imagine other urban sites, and also to reflect on Melbourne’s distinctive urban qualities. Above the front doors of the projecting glass entry-bay are liquid-plasma screens announcing (in Lab-orchestrated graphics designed by Garry Emery) what is on exhibition.10 Lab architecture studio was commissioned to design the entire graphics and signage for Federation Square, including all signage for NGV Australia. The response was to make the signage electronic to enable continuous programming of the site. The electronic basis of the graphics then dictated the design of all non-electronic typefaces. Each tenant has a dedicated LED colour-coded ‘channel’ to enable visitors to efficiently navigate through the site. The LED system also has technological and aesthetic synergy with the Web, which means that the experience of the graphics is continuous between the physical site and virtual realm. Once properly inside the foyer, immediately above is a void with escalators zigzagging upwards. There is no doubt about where one should go, despite the multiple passages that seem to splay off in all directions. Paved in the same South Australian sandstone that clads the exterior, this space lies at the intersection of the two filaments. Immediately ahead is the entry from the east where busloads of schoolchildren will be dropped off and then whisked away to teaching rooms and a theatrette tucked between the entry level and Level G. On this same intermediate level is the suite of administrative offices, rather too windowless but appropriately sleek in design, and the rooms of the Gallery Society, which are also smartly fitted out, complete with a judicious number of cut-outs and colours, and a lounge from where Gallery Society members will be able to gloat in comfort, looking through windows down to the bistro/cafe and Flinders Street footpath.

The foyer is a multiple-access space (the architects talk constantly about ‘multiple readings’ available within the building, the maxim also of their leiber-meister Daniel Libeskind). As a space it should hum with activity, and this will happen if public access to NGV Australia remains free of charge. To the north, on the ground level, is a large bookshop, which also fronts the wintergarden/galleria. Closest to Flinders Street is a bistro/cafe and next to that, on the north-east corner, is the Response Gallery, the equivalent of the St Kilda Road Access Gallery and the future location of small, temporary exhibitions. Lying below the external curtain of sandstone, zinc and galvanised steel, this mainly glazed urban interface will be lively and permeable, guaranteeing constant traffic in and around the base of the building.

The major gallery space on the ground floor, located south of the foyer, will be one of the main attractions of NGV Australia. Housed in the two ends of the double filament is the NGV’s unique collection of Indigenous art. It is also where one experiences, for the first time, the materials palette of floor, wall and ceilings, consistently applied to all twenty galleries in the complex. All the floors are timber, using recycled ironbark, which gives the interior immediate visual warmth. Continuous floor grilles for heating and cooling are also of ironbark – sticks of carefully graded colours that create an orthogonal rhythm against the angled partition walls. In this gallery only, timber discs are set into the floor which can be removed to allow for the insertion of Aboriginal pukumani (mourning ceremony) poles; an innovation that does away with the podium, which inhibits a true reading of these pieces. All the walls are white, entirelyclean of any projections, lighting fixtures or penetrations.  The purity of the vertical surface remains constant throughout the entire gallery, a feature that Lindsay emphasises will allow complete curatorial freedom.11 Frances Lindsay, discussion with the author, 14 July 2002.

The ceilings are the location for subtle architectural play. The architects talk of slits and slots. The thin lines of light tracks zigzag along slits above, allowing multiple lighting positions rather than a constant line of lights. Then there are the slots: thicker lines that denote elongated, filament-like recesses in the ceiling that cleverly conceal the return-air grilles of the air-conditioning system. Here the architects have limited themselves to a subtle tracing of the complex fractal geometries that dictate their facade designs. Artifice is present but not overbearingly so.

Other features of this ground-floor space include dividing walls with glass cases embedded into them to house delicate woven-grass and feather works. Visual relief is gained by the fact that this space straddles a slice of intrafilament space. Looking south along the intrafilament is a view of the Yarra River and eucalypts. Looking up, one sees ribbons of glass casting multiple reflections as glass-clad bridges, striated with black steel strips, crisscross the sky-lit intrafilament void. This is where the architects let fly, and the building speaks in ways other than of the conventional housing of art. Such visual artifice also serves a much-needed functional purpose: the reduction of gallery fatigue. At every other level, the bridges across the intrafilament space define breaks between the enfilade plan of each gallery filament. These might be the positions for a piece of sculpture, a seat or an interactive multimedia installation (the public education charter of the NGV has not changed) or access to an escape stair. The polished-concrete floor surface of each bridge is also different, providing variety and a tactile break from the timber; as are the walls – a dusky grey plaster render that appears to have the solidity and mass of concrete. These spaces are darker, even sombre, depending on the day outside, and recall the cool shade of Melbourne’s lanes or the grey basalt walls of St Kilda Road.

Up the escalator to Level 2, one arrives at the beginning of a notional figure-of-eight circulation sequence through the history of Australian art from European settlement to the present day, which includes the work of Indigenous artists in its linear chronology. In the two northern filaments the enfilade plan is conventionally followed as the rooms of Australian colonial painting give way to early-twentieth-century works. Along the way there is a breakout bulge of space behind a wall of paintings, a Juliet balcony from where to sit and gaze out across the atrium/wintergarden. Back in the galleries the line of sight dictated by the openings in the enfilade is a gradual and gentle curve through the nineteenth century. Then, immediately pre-atrium/wintergarden. Back in the galleries the line of sight dictated by the openings in the enfilade is a gradual and gentle curve through the nineteenth century. Then, immediately pre-Federation and after, the lines of sight constantly cross and zigzag back and forth across the width of each filament, analogous to the disparate and diverse traditions of the recent century as opposed to the finite, arguably orthodox views of art of the nineteenth century.12 This response to view lines was determined by the architects’ critique of similar navigation lines in Renzo Piano’s Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 1997; Venturi Scott Brown & Associates’ Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London, 1991; and Frank Gehry’s Frederick R. Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, 1993.

Moving into the two southern filament ends, the spaces increase in width and length,13 The ceiling height has already increased from 4.5 metres in the 19th-century gallery spaces to 5.4 metres in the Federation-period rooms; indicative of the greater scale and size of the works, and some of the spaces for which the paintings were commissioned. the spatial climax being the vast south-east room which will house Fred Williams’s Pilbara series. One then returns to the foyer via contemporary Australian art of the 1980s and 1990s. Along this route, which need not be followed chronologically, there are moments of surprise: discovering the great triangular staircase at the eastern end of the foyer; the tiny window bays that allow one to go to the true edge of the facade and peer out over the railyards and beyond to a distant view of the Yarra and Melbourne Cricket Ground; or the almost-secret stair in the corner of the Pilbara series salon that takes one up another level to a Special Exhibitions gallery. In an interstitial space such as this, one feels as if one is traversing within the skin of the building, discovering its parts unknown, making forays beyond the enfilade, and getting ‘behind’ the works, deciding to upset the smooth journey of orchestrated display.

Following the conventional path, by escalator, one arrives at the uppermost floor, Level 3, which contains one of the largest floor areas in the nation devoted to contemporary and special exhibitions of Australian art. The ceiling height has also increased to nine metres, thus allowing some of the most ambitious installations to be made under the best gallery conditions. These are giant spaces. At the time of opening there will be an installation of a work by Bea Maddock, with partition walls specially designed by Lab in collaboration with the artist to emphasise the drama of the work. At the western crossing of the filaments, which form a lazy ‘X’, there is a cafe looking south-west across the Yarra to St Kilda Road and Southbank, and a distant view of NGV Australia’s bluestone alma mater. At the end of all this one can retreat downstairs by lift, by the grand east stair or by another surprise route within the building’s external skin, a stair which plummets downward in forced perspective along the south-western face of the building. As with the stair in the Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery, London, this is an exhilarating architectural moment. However, this is a truly steep stair. This is no scala regia, but a tense moment of descent (though one can bail out at Level 2 and take the lift). Instead of the palatial gallery staircase, here there is the quality of the steep, servants’ stair which has mysterious, even illicit associations, and given its location within the thickness of the building skin, this seems entirely, if somewhat perversely, appropriate.

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia should be an outstanding success. It has taken time to come to fruition, but good time, and is the result of a mutually rewarding collaboration between the gallery and the architect. There are some puzzles, however: the non- or unstated provision for Australian decorative arts, the place of photography and prints, and the position of sculpture generally – all revealing a bias towards painting. Yet I was assured that these disciplines would be more than catered for within curatorial planning for the centre and future dedicated exhibitions, and in the substantially upgraded facilities at NGV International, the renamed St Kilda Road gallery.14 It should also be noted that exquisitely designed, frameless glass cases by Lab, manufactured in Germany by Glasbau Hahn, will be seen at NGV Australia. These cases will house works from the NGV costume and fashion collections. A gratifying aspect of NGV Australia will be that substantial critical attention will be paid to its interior design. When Roy Grounds’s gallery was completed, an unnecessary amount of criticism was launched upon its external appearance. The interior, which followed contemporary trends in art gallery design, has since been criticised as a ‘misguided Art Mart’15 Van Schaik, p. 54. but such criticism overlooks the importance of the 1968 design with respect to its unique place within a series of overseas, post-war galleries that dared to architecturally address issues of place, materiality and time. In the new gallery at Federation Square, no such controversy should arise. The interior fits within the conventionally understood world view of what constitutes an acceptable and high-quality gallery space.

It could be said that NGV Australia has no external architectural identity peculiar to itself. Some might liken it to being a tenant within a shopping centre. But then the paintings and installations within Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, 1997, can also be described in this way. Gehry’s building signifies the new cultural significance of architectural boutique wrapping and architecture as giant works of public art. Federation Square, likewise, with its deferential tributes to Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, 1998, and the vicissitudes of fractal geometry organising its complex, layered facade, can be likened to a sculptural, urban organism of which NGV Australia is but one part. Inside, however, the story is different. Here the architects have respected the prevailing curatorial orthodoxy for the unadorned white wall, and for a gallery interior that, for the most part, is artificially lit. This is also what happens within the barn-like but nevertheless totally rewarding galleries of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Rather than invent new systems like Renzo Piano’s light baffles at the Menil Collection in Houston, 1987, or Peter Zumthor’s illuminated glass ceilings at the Kunsthalle, Bregenz, Austria, 1997, at Melbourne there has been the decision to let the art rule rather than let new curatorial technologies, lovingly invented by architects, determine the forms of the spaces. While some critics may see this as a conservative approach, there is also the reality that the simplest solution might also be a universal solution.

In acoustic design, the best design for a concert hall is always a timber-lined, rectangular box,16 G. Tibbits, ‘Creating the large scale: Mahler and the Concert Hall’, Fabrications 10, August 1999, pp. 1–5. but then the music is inevitably classical. For the most part, paintings, despite artists’ arguments to the contrary, are also like classical music, anachronistic in their technical production and in the mode of their appreciation, but with messages that transcend time and the whims of the walls that surround them. Lab’s effective hybrid of enfilade and intrafilament spaces bridges all traditions. This is the original contribution of their design. NGV Australia is a worthy addition to Federation Square, and its presence will, almost without doubt, hold the key to the success of that great urban enterprise. 

Philip Goad, Professor of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne (in 2002).

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Frances Lindsay and Isobel Crombie of the NGV, and Peter Davidson, Donald Bates and Elly Bloom of Lab architecture studio for their assistance and advice in preparing this article.

 

Notes

1     Responses to the National Gallery of Victoria in the popular press were extremely positive. See Age, 21 August 1968, pp. 5,18; Herald, 21 August 1968, p.6; and Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 1968, p.2. The Age, 21 August 1968, p. 5, headed its editorial ‘A City Enriched’ and paid tribute to the architect Roy Grounds and the building committee. It also praised the Victorian Government for funding the project so generously: ‘The National Gallery is the first major public building erected by a Victorian Government in over 50 years. It cannot be written off as a cynical political bid to buy a passport to cultural respectability. The Government has acted with wisdom and generosity, and this State is immeasurably richer as a result. For the very best of reasons, the Bolte Government has written itself into the history of the arts in Australia. We are all in their debt’.

2     Critical responses from the art and architecture professions were mostly negative, peppered with some praise. The quantity of criticism was such that, in itself, this was an indication of the building’s importance. Melbourne’s most prominent architectural voice, Robin Boyd (1919–1971), was, however, diplomatically silent. For a range of views see Cross-Section, vol. 191. September 1968; L. Orton, ‘New National Gallery of Victoria’, Architect, September–October 1968, p. 16; D. Saunders, ‘Appraisal’, Architecture in Australia, October 1968, pp. 783–5; D. Watson, ‘The door of perception – impressions of an opening’, Architecture in Australia, October 1968, pp. 786–92; and the entire December 1968 issue of Art and Australia which was devoted to the NGV with commentaries from the various NGV curators, and another review by David Saunders.

3     The Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiralling snail on Fifth Avenue, is the most celebrated, now clichéd, example of architecture victorious. This is not to denigrate the numerous, truly great art galleries or museums which are also fine works of architecture such as the Museum of the Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy, 1956, by Carlo Scarpa; Louisiana Art Gallery, Klampenborg, Denmark, 1991, by Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert; Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1972, and Yale Centre for the Study of British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, 1974, by Louis Kahn; and the East Wing of the National Gallery, Washington DC, 1978, by I. M. Pei.

4     M. Dennis, Court and Garden: From the French Hotel to the City of Modern Architecture, Cambridge, Mass., 1986.

5     Architects Peter Davidson and Donald Bates established Lab architecture studio in London in 1994. Peter Davidson (born 1955) graduated in architecture from the NSW Institute of Technology in 1980. He moved to London in 1981 and worked as editorial assistant on International Architect, the journal owned and edited by expatriate Australians Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper. For ten years he operated a sole practice and taught at the Architectural Association and Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Donald Bates (born 1953) graduated in architecture from the University of Houston in 1978 and in 1980 he completed a master’s degree at the Cranbrook Academy of Art under the direction of architect Daniel Libeskind. Bates acted as associate architect to Libeskind on the Berlin City Edge competition entry in 1987 and the Berlin Museum competition entry (now known as the Jewish Museum) in 1989. He taught at the Architectural Association in London from 1983 to 1989 and from 1993 to 1995, and founded the independent architectural school, the Laboratory of Primary Studies in Architecture (LoPSiA) in 1990, operating in Paris and at the Le Corbusier-designed Unité d’Habitation at Briey-en-Forét.

6     The alterations and additions to the NGV International in St Kilda Road are being undertaken by Italian architect Mario Bellini in association with the Melbourne firm Metier III.

7     With architect Nonda Katsalidis, Lindsay had successfully engineered for the university a series of six, international-standard gallery spaces, also arranged to either side of an intrafilament space – a four-storey atrium containing the main stair and Napier Waller’s stained-glass Leckie Window, 1935, from the original Wilson Hall. L. van Schaik, ‘Street credentials’, Architecture Australia, September–October 1998, pp. 50–5.

8     In many respects it was the complex nature of the collections of the NGV that dictated the complex design response offered by architect Roy Grounds (1905–81) in his 1960 design for St Kilda Road. The NGV collections of oriental art, antiquities, glass and decorative arts, as well as the need for substantial amounts of storage, and the inclusion of the Great Hall and a temporary exhibition space, precluded the straightforward design of a building based around a single collection. For a detailed description of the history and development of the design of the NGV in St Kilda Road, see Philip Goad, ‘An oriental palazzo: Roy Grounds and the National Gallery of Victoria’, Backlogue 3, 1999, pp. 72–105 and Allom Lovell & Associates and Philip Goad, National Gallery of Victoria: Conservation Management Plan, prepared for the trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, January 1995.

9     At Federation Square the problem of storage of works of art has also been removed. The Victorian Archive Centre, 2001, a new and very large storage facility designed by Bates Smart, has been built in Shiel Street, North Melbourne to serve both NGV Australia and NGV International, and the Public Records Office.

10     Lab architecture studio was commissioned to design the entire graphics and signage for Federation Square, including all signage for NGV Australia. The response was to make the signage electronic to enable continuous programming of the site. The electronic basis of the graphics then dictated the design of all non-electronic typefaces. Each tenant has a dedicated LED colour-coded ‘channel’ to enable visitors to efficiently navigate through the site. The LED system also has technological and aesthetic synergy with the Web, which means that the experience of the graphics is continuous between the physical site and virtual realm.

11     Frances Lindsay, discussion with the author, 14 July 2002.

12     This response to view lines was determined by the architects’ critique of similar navigation lines in Renzo Piano’s Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 1997; Venturi Scott Brown & Associates’ Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London, 1991; and Frank Gehry’s Frederick R. Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, 1993.

13     The ceiling height has already increased from 4.5 metres in the 19th-century gallery spaces to 5.4 metres in the Federation-period rooms; indicative of the greater scale and size of the works, and some of the spaces for which the paintings were commissioned.

14     It should also be noted that exquisitely designed, frameless glass cases by Lab, manufactured in Germany by Glasbau Hahn, will be seen at NGV Australia. These cases will house works from the NGV costume and fashion collections.

15     Van Schaik, p. 54.

16     G. Tibbits, ‘Creating the large scale: Mahler and the Concert Hall’, Fabrications 10, August 1999, pp. 1–5.