Loss of cheesestick gateway a pity, says Kennett

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The Age: Loss of cheesestick gateway a pity, says Kennett. October 1, 2014 Clay Lucas, City Editor, The Age

Citylink’s ‘Cheese stick’. Photo: Justin McManus

Former premier Jeff Kennett says he is disappointed the East West Link will displace the dramatic entrance to the city formed by the “cheesesticks” – an architectural monument on CityLink put in place by his government.

The 70-metre yellow steel beam suspended over CityLink, and the accompanying 39 red “sticks”, frame the freeway’s city exit in Flemington.

They are officially called the Melbourne International Gateway.

“I wanted people to understand when they were driving in from the airport that they were driving in through a gateway into the marvellous assets of this city,” said Mr Kennett, whose government opened CityLink in 1999.

Under plans for the East West Link, the yellow beam will be retained and a new green beam the same size and form will be built nearby.

But several of the red sticks will be removed, and some placed in another location.

And the view of the city that now exists will be obscured by two new elevated roadways joining the East West Link to CityLink.

“It’s a co-ordinated piece,” Mr Kennett said, and the changes meant “you lose entirely the concept of a gateway”.

He said the gateway work was an important nod to architecture’s importance to Melbourne.

“Architecture is part of this city’s culture; the cheesesticks are part of our culture,” he said.

When CityLink opened, its architects, Denton Corker Marshall – who have been appointed to work on the East West Link – described the yellow beam as “the urban equivalent of the universal yellow boom gate in the up position”.

Mr Kennett said the architectural feature was one of Melbourne’s truly “iconic” monuments, and the structure’s alteration meant it would be lost.

He stressed he was a supporter of the East West Link project, which his government also proposed in May 1999 to build. But it lost office five months later, before it could act on the proposal.

A press release from the Kennett government from that year notes an “anticipated cost of approximately $700 million” – just under 10 per cent of the current project’s $6.8 billion budget. It was not clear from that press release what form the 1999 concept for the road would have taken.

Denton Corker Marshall was contacted by Fairfax Media on the changes to its work, but the director in charge of the East West Link project, Neil Bourne, was not available for comment

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