7th March 2015.
Fremantle's proposed new library will be like a "spacious sunken living room" and not the dungeon it's being made out to be, says advisory committee chair Andrew Sullivan.
The veteran Fremantle councillor and architect—who was on the panel which selected Kerry Hill Architects' designs for Kings Square—says people passing the new council building will get a view of the library "second-to-none".
He describes criticism to date as "unfair and ill-informed" ("Underground resistance to buried books," Herald, February 28, 2015).
"Yes, the library is proposed to be set at the lower ground floor level," he concedes.
"However, the double-height, light-filled space will have none of the characteristics of a basement, cellar or dungeon.
"Indeed, it is more accurate to describe it as a fish bowl, if you must give it a name."
The design wraps around two fish ponds, which he says provide a perfect setting for contemplative reading.
"Above the ponds, the four storey-high light wells channel soft reflected daylight to all of the library spaces.
"While other libararies have to resort to tinted windows and sunscreening devices to keep out direct sun, ours will have clear glass in the floor-to-ceiling high windows.
"These glass walls wrap around three sides of the library and the view in from the public realm will be second-to-none."
Cr Sullivan dismisses concerns the library's collection will be at risk from flooding, noting the Louvre in Paris and Tasmania's MONA gallery have below-ground storage.
Council chief publicity officer Jason Cunningham says the new library will be almost twice the size of the existing facility.
Defence has emerged as a possible new tenant for Kings Square.
When the Herald put the rumour to Sirona Capital boss Matthew McNeilly he replied "I couldn't comment on that". He pointedly did not deny it.
"But I could be just trying to mislead you," he said, laughing, a few moments later.
Mr McNeilly revealed Sirona, which owns the Myer building and is expecting to pick up Queensgate as part of a deal with the council, has given up trying to find an anchor retail tenant.
He says the company's now looking at trying to develop a "destination" that features a range of boutique stores: the idea's generated interest in the past six months from companies Sirona's approached overseas.
Mr McNeilly says it's a big project and concedes earlier expectations about a start date were unrealistic, but things are progressing. He says similar developments take up to a decade to reach fruition.
Sirona is still hoping to secure the WA housing department as a tenant and mayor Brad Pettitt says a meeting with new minister Colin Holt went well a fortnight ago. He says the minister told the council a plan to move the department to the port city is still on the cards, despite Labor claiming it's dead in the water.