Announcement by the NSW Government of the proposed demolition of the Sydney Exhibition Centre is a great tragedy for architecture in NSW. Designed by renowned architect Philip Cox and built as part of the great tradition of exhibition buildings, this internationally acclaimed building was a cornerstone for the redevelopment of Darling Harbour and the Nation’s Bi-Centennial celebrations.
Opened just 25 years ago, the building was considered to be an outstanding example of modern architecture and was awarded the 1989 Sir John Sulman Medal by the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Throughout its operations, the Centre has been a key facility in the South East Asia and Pacific region for the MICE industry, helping to generate an estimated $450 - 500 million a year for the NSW economy.
It has played a major part in the life and culture of Sydney by hosting a wide variety of significant events, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The award winning expressed structure of the Sydney Exhibition Centre is also a very significant work of structural engineering by ARUP.
Listed by the National Trust and the Australian Institute of Architects, it is also being considered for the State Significance list by the Heritage Office.
Philip Cox has stated: “The removal of the Sulman Award winning Sydney Exhibition Centre is an act of vandalism and in fact is quite unnecessary. Early examination of the proposal suggests the building can be retained”.
John Richardson, the Project Director for Cox Richardson made the following comment on the announcement: “NSW 20th Century heritage will suffer a serious blow. Major works by Ken Woolley, John Andrews, Michael Dysaght and Philip Cox are gone or are now under threat”.
Significant Sydney architecture of the late 20th Century deserves our respect.
Prominent Sydney architects Professor Peter Webber, David Chesterman and Darryl Conybeare have all expressed concern about the potential loss of this important building.
Sydney Exhibition Centre Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall