NSW’s $345m Sydney Modern Gallery Tops Out


The Art Gallery of NSW’s $345-million museum for contemporary art has topped out.

The development, which is being overseen by Infrastructure NSW on behalf of the NSW government and the gallery, has reached its highest point and is more than half complete.

The gallery, Sydney Modern, will double the exhibition space of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said the major expansion would help attract tourists, between a million to 2 million per year, back to Sydney and inject more than $1 billion into the state’s economy over 25 years.

“Sydney Modern ensures our state remains on everyone’s ‘must-see’ list, bringing jobs and business opportunities for our tourism industry, forming a key part of our vision for the future,” Perrottet said.

“New York is synonymous with The Met [and] this investment will make our gallery a similarly iconic global attraction.”

The project was initially planned to be completed in late-2021 but will instead be finished months behind schedule, in late 2022, due to construction halts brought about by multiple construction tenders and a state-wide pandemic lockdown.

Construction giant Lendlease was in line to build the gallery before walking away due to a costings disagreement, with the developer revealing its concern over whether the project could be delivered within budget.

The project was eventually re-tendered and awarded to Richard Crookes Constructions in September 2019 for a tender price of $220 million.

The stand-alone gallery, north of the existing gallery, has been designed by Tokyo-based architecture studio SANAA alongside executive architect Architectus.

It has been constructed over the eastern distributor land bridge and features a series of interlocked pavilions that step down towards Woolloomooloo and Sydney Harbour.

To the site’s north, a decommissioned WWII-era naval oil tank has been repurposed as a contemporary art space.

The project also includes an outdoor “art garden” to connect the new and existing gallery buildings, a new entry plaza, rooftop art terraces and space for research and education.

Once realised, it will be Australia’s first museum to be awarded the highest rating for sustainable design—a 6-Star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

The state government has contributed $244 million towards the project, with the gallery raising more than $100 million from philanthropic and corporate donors to support the expansion.

The development is the largest government and philanthropic arts partnership of its kind in Australia to date.

In Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria’s new contemporary art gallery is moving ahead after four shortlisted Australian design teams filed their stage two submissions earlier this month.

The winning submission is due to be announced in early 2022.


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