The Armidale and District Historical Society wishes to express its deep concern about the recent decision by the University of New England to demolish the residential blocks of Robb College. Robb College was designed in the early 1960s by the noted Australian architect Michael Dysart. When Michael Dysart spoke at the 50th year celebrations held two years ago, he was amazed by the fact that the essential fabric of the building was relatively unchanged.
In justifying the demolition it has been stated by University authorities that the fifty-two year old buildings are looking old and are in a state of disrepair. If maintenance has not been undertaken, what has happened to the maintenance levy collected from college residents for the past two decades?
If organisations are going to demolish buildings then surely a cost benefit analysis has to be made. Tragically, many administrators public and private, believe that the most effective way is to demolish so that one has a ‘green field’ to work with. Michael Dysart offered to undertake an architectural survey of the buildings. Did the University consider this in its deliberations? If the administration believes that 20th century buildings are of limited value to the University, then what other buildings will be under threat?
It is tragic that administrators display such a lack of corporate knowledge. If there was an understanding of the architectural merit of the work of Michael Dysart and the 1960s period when the University system throughout the country was undergoing great expansion, then different decisions may have been made. It is a great shame that the University has not worked from the basic assumption that the Robb College buildings are valuable to the cultural heritage of the University and Armidale. Administrators move on but communities such as Armidale are left with results of their decisions.