WHEN Hobart architect Paul Johnston saw the newly built Wrest Point Casino as a teenager, it resembled a pin on a roulette wheel.
On reflection, it now represents a perfect marriage of classical and modern architecture - the classical use of pure geometric shapes with modernist aesthetics.
On February 10, Wrest Point will celebrate 40 years since it first opened its doors.
It was Australia's first legal casino and, at 64 metres in height, remains Hobart's tallest landmark, as well as a hub for gaming, sports, and social events.
The casino's construction included a 17-storey octagonal hotel tower, topped by a revolving restaurant.
Mr Johnston said its presence established itself as a nationally recognisable Tasmanian landmark.
``As a young teenager, I always thought it was based on the idea of a roulette wheel,'' he said.
``The tower doesn't have a front or a back, it addresses all the sides and I think that's emblematic as its role of a landmark or a pinpoint in the context of greater Hobart.
``But it is not just a single tower. It sits on a podium; a radiating plinth.''
Mr Johnston said the casino occupies one of the city's most favoured sites, once occupied by the grand art deco Wrest Point Riviera Hotel.
``You could equate it to the MONA of its day,'' he said.
``There are similarities between the prime positions they occupy on water frontage on the Derwent.''
Mr Johnston said the casino, designed by groundbreaking architect Sir Roy Grounds, exemplified changes in Australian architecture at the time with its bronzed tinted glass, and an overall warm textured building.
He said Wrest Point's sandy-beach aggregate illustrated a move away from glass towers.
The Wrest Point Casino was one of Sir Roy's last major works.
Mr Johnston said Sir Roy, while modernist, was influenced by the classics.
``His architecture is distinguished by the use of pure geometry and primary forms and that's obviously a classical idea,'' Mr Johnston said.
``The radial point of the tower sits in line with the old Riviera Hotel, more evidence of the strict geometric relationship between the two buildings.''
The Australian Academy of Science's Shine Dome, the Victorian Arts Centre and National Gallery of Victoria, rate alongside the Wrest Point as Sir Roy's crowning achievements.
In another MONA connection, Sir Roy designed two houses at Moorilla for winemaker Claudio Alcorso.
Mr Alcorso's courtyard house - essentially a square house with a square courtyard at its centre - is now the entry to MONA.
The second house, designed for Mr Alcorso's mother, is a round house with a conical roof.
``These too were perfect examples of modernism based on a pure application of geometric shapes,'' Mr Johnston said.