From colonial masterpieces like Customs House in Newcastle and Mansfield House in Maitland to the ultra modern transport interchange at Wickham, the Lower Hunter boasts a rich and diverse array of architectural styles spanning close to 200 years.
But buildings, like people, can inspire praise and loathing often in equal measure.
The Newcastle Herald asked four people with strong views about Hunter architecture to share their thoughts on what buildings they love and which ones they would like to tear down.
Herald journalist MICHAEL PARRIS concludes our series.
Future tastes may condemn this building as a bit of a try-hard, but in contemporary Newcastle it's been a revelation.
For the state's second city, still emerging from its industrial past, the eight-storey jumble of shapes, spaces, colours and angles represents what is possible in a town with an inferiority complex.
It's playful, shiny, modern, bold. I couldn't think of a better way for government, as represented by the university, to make a statement about Newcastle and its future.
I also like it because it looks striking no matter where you're standing, whether that's two blocks away in Honeysuckle, in Laman Street or in Hunter Street.
And it somehow complements the heritage buildings around it.
The architects nailed the brief.
"Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine."
Thomas Aquinas no doubt had Newcastle's "Roundhouse" building in mind when he uttered these words around the campfire in the 13th century.
The "bath" in this sense could be the thorough cleanse the old council admin building has enjoyed in recent weeks, leaving it a fetching and pristine pale stone colour in time for its reopening as a good place to sleep and, perhaps, enjoy a shiraz in the new roof-top bar.
I love the champagne cork partly because of its recent history: The council decides to decamp to the west end then finds a Syrian billionaire to buy its old joint for $16.5 million and turn it into a luxury hotel.
The billionaire's Aussie right-hand man, a new resident of Merewether, then leaves the company early in the project, but the rebuild rolls on.
I think the end result will be Novocastrians finally falling in love with their nine-storey shuttlecock.
It's everything a Brutalist bully should be, thrusting itself rudely between the Civic Theatre, Fred Ash building and stately City Hall.
I used to duck into the David Jones food hall here for a pork pie or a sandwich when I was living large in Perkins Street back in the day.
The back section of DJs is now being transformed into the city's coolest new apartment tower, a curvy, brick homage to the building's art deco origins.
It begs the question: Why can't planning authorities insist on this level of design everywhere in the city?
Arches, a colonnade, clock tower, Gothic windows, a time ball on a spike that drops at one o'clock every day.
What more could you ask of a building?
My research tells me Newcastle's loveliest heritage pile is in the Italianate Renaissance revival style, which perhaps explains why it wouldn't look too out of place in a Tuscan town square.
One of Newcastle's treasures is a grand and gorgeous triumph of proportion and ornamentation, and the creamy brickwork gives it a light touch as it keeps watch over the harbour.
"Customs" has been sympathetically repurposed as a bar and restaurant, meaning we can enjoy it just about whenever we like.
The building was severely damaged in the earthquake. To everyone involved in its repair, thank you.
Oriental Hotel, Cooks Hill
The Ori is a fetching example of Victorian-era pub architecture which has been beautifully restored.
Lovely pub tiles out the front, a simple black and white colour scheme, the little signs dangling down from the awning, no modern advertising logos to spoil the effect, no TAB, no pokies.
It's clean, elegant and respectful of the heritage neighbourhood, one of the most appealing little pockets of Newcastle.
This abject planning failure is one of the city's most maligned buildings.
Under financial and political pressure to get the investment ball rolling in the Honeysuckle redevelopment precinct, Macquarie Street approved the waterfront hotel in the face of community opposition.
It was widely feared the building would cut off the harbour from the city, create a dark and windy canyon in Wharf Road and privatise harbour views for the well off.
The hotel, now part of the Rydges chain, opened in 2003, and it immediately became apparent the community was right.
So much so that even the Hunter Development Corporation admitted in 2012 that the building was a "poor urban design outcome".
Cooks Hill surf club pavilion (the new bit)
I really don't know what happened here.
One minute we had plans for a curved-roof structure sweeping down to the sand at Bar Beach; the next we were left with a depressing grey block tacked incongruously to the side of the tasteful old club building.
The answer is probably money, but still.
I love bare concrete as much as the next metrosexual, but there's something particularly ugly about this particular shade of grey in this particular setting.
The beach should be where we go to forget the austere aesthetics of modern city life.
Newcastle Perm building
Some Brutalist buildings, like the Roundhouse and the art gallery, have aged better than others.
The Perm's seven-storey slab of concrete and glass opened in 1983. It is perhaps not strictly Brutalist, but it captures some of the movement's least appealing elements.
Unfortunately, it's on a prominent corner, opposite the equally hideous Workers Club rebuild.
You could add any number of 1980s commercial buildings to this list. The Travelodge and No.6 Newcomen Street earn dishonourable mentions.
And that black shroud they've put over the King Street Hotel is a shocker.
Newcastle Leagues Club
It's hard to imagine the thought process that led up to this low-slung horror show in National Park Street, which is packed with super-ugly all the way up to Parry Street.
It's as though someone was trying to make the facade as unattractive as possible. If so, they absolutely nailed the worst shade of blue paint, the steel mesh treatment and black bullnose awning.
Local vandals have tried to distract from the monstrosity with some graffiti tags, but to no avail.
I can see a wrecking ball in this joint's not-too-distant future.
Shame, because it's the first place I saw Silverchair.
A town nestled into the most beautiful section of coastline on the eastern seaboard but sadly developed during a low period in Australian architecture.
No offence to the locals, but we can do better.
Run a couple of dozers down either side of the town with a heavy chain between them and clear-fell the lot.
Then give the folks building the EastEnd development a crack at it.