Sydney Modern Project the most significant arts opening since Opera House
The $344 million Art Gallery of NSW redevelopment designed by award-winning architects SANAA and built by Richard Crookes Constructions, opened its doors to the public on Saturday.
In the most significant art project since the Sydney Opera House opened 1973, the Sydney Modern Project on Saturday (3 December) welcomed the public through its impressive glass doors for the first time.
The $344 million Art Gallery of New South Wales redevelopment in the heart of Sydney has seen a former World War II naval bunker converted into a 1,300 square-metre gallery space for major exhibitions, a gallery for new media installations, dedicated learning and participation studios and a massive 2,200sq metre subterranean gallery.
The actual name is not yet official, with it variously dubbed for The Tank, Sydney Modern or Sydney Modern Project.
NSW Government contributed $244 million, with private donations covering the other $100 million.
The new standalone building designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA is the centrepiece of the expansion.
Ahead of the 15,000 booked to visit on Saturday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet described the Art Gallery as “an extraordinarily beautiful, expanded and enhanced public institution to people from across New South Wales, Australia and the world.”
“Make no mistake, this is the most significant cultural build since the Opera House” Mr Perrottet said.
It is the first public art museum in Australia to achieve a six-star Green Star design rating, operating on 100 per cent renewable energy and featuring solar panels, rainwater capture and harvesting capabilities, and more than 8,000sq metres of landscaped areas and green roof that have been planted with Australian natives.
Construction began in November 2019, with bushfire smoke stalling work the following month.
Originally slated to open in late 2021, construction on the new wing was delayed in 2019 when the project dumped original builder Lendlease, after the company costed the works above the budgeted $344 million.
After re-tendering the project, the gallery announced Richard Crookes Constructions as the new builder. Architectus was appointed Executive Architect in support of SANAA.
Reaching structural completion took more than 540,000 hours worked on site. It involved the excavation of 80,000 tonne of material, the installation of more than 1,400 tonne of structural steel and over 12,000 cubic metres of concrete, the equivalent of five Olympic swimming pools.
Australian landscape architects McGregor Coxall and landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson with Seattle firm Gustafson Guthrie Nicol (GGN) led the design of landscape and civic spaces for the campus.
The Sydney Modern wing will house a permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gallery at its entrance, as well as nine works by contemporary Australian and international artists specifically commissioned for the space.
The gallery on Art Gallery Road, between Wynyard and Woolloomooloo, is home to more than 36,000 art works, including almost 22,000 Australian displays.