Cities@UNSW | Designing the Global City with Professor Robert Freestone

UNSW Built Environment in partnership with CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) presents the Cities@UNSW lecture featuring Professor Robert Freestone.


Professor Freestone will speak on ‘Design excellence and the competition dividend in central Sydney’:

Competitions are long associated with securing quality designs but mandating them as part of a development approval system is virtually unknown. Except in Sydney. Instituting competitive designs for major property development projects in central Sydney was a hallmark reform of Frank Sartor’s mayoralty in 2000. Over the last two decades the central Sydney skyline has been shaped by the products of this approach to design excellence. Drawing from Professor Freestone’s new book, Designing the Global City, this presentation summarises the findings of a multi-year research project into the effectiveness of competitive processes in Sydney’s CBD. From numerous interviews and background reviews it points ultimately to a value-adding process: one that has significantly contributed to striking the right balance between private commercial interests and the public city.

This will be followed by a panel discussion on the topic, chaired by Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of UNSW Built Environment, and led by senior industry professionals:

  • Graham Jahn AM - Director of City Planning, Development and Transport, City of Sydney
  • Louise Mason- Group Executive and CEO Commercial Property, Stockland
  • Philip Vivian- Director, Bates Smart Pty Ltd; President, Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in Australia
  • Clare Swan- Director, Ethos Urban; Director, JBA – urban development services


Please join us for what promises to be an inspiring and engaging discussion on designing the global city.

Registration:      5:30 pm
Lecture:              6:00pm
Panel and Q&A: 6:30pm
Networking:       7:10pm 

A joint event with:


If you would like to register please forward your interest to

Ainsworth G03, UNSW (map reference J17)
Additional venues: 
Red Centre Gallery (map reference H13)
Event date: 
08 May 2019 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Professor Robert Freestone

Professor Robert Freestone is internationally-recognised in his urban research and teaching and has influenced understandings of the built environment worldwide. His work has also prompted national research and policy interest in urban planning challenges and legacies, helping to integrate Australian perspectives into world debates. His expertise in urban policy has focused on the development of planning, theory and practice, in particular regional and metropolitan visions; heritage and conservation; infrastructure provision; and urban design. These threads feed into the overall mission of the UNSW Built Environment faculty to create sustainable, liveable and productive cities.

Professor Freestone has won several state and national awards for excellence in planning scholarship from the Planning Institute of Australia since 1995 (most recently the 2011 national award for research and scholarship for Urban Nation) as well as two National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards (2008 and 2011).