Sydney Architecture Images- Pyrmont

Sydney Exhibtion Centre See also Sydney Convention Centre and Sydney Monorail


Philip Cox Richardson Taylor and Partners


Darling Harbour


1988 Demolished 2014. Replaced by  DARLING HARBOUR CONFERENCE CENTRE


Late 20th-Century Structuralist




Exhibtion Centre
  Above- the site in 1984.
  Demolition (February 2014):
  Proposed (screen shots from the DA set):
The Sydney Exhibition Centre was built in 1988 by the Darling Harbour Authority, on behalf of the New South Wales State Government.

In 2001 the Darling Harbour Authority, along with Sydney Cove Authority and City West Development Corporation was incorporated into Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

In conjunction with the Convention North and South Buildings, the Exhibition Centre is a key component of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Exhibition Centre is a significant building for Sydney, recognised internationally as an outstanding architectural building of the twentieth century.

Comprising five interconnected halls, each of 5,000 square metres and an underground 1,000 space car park; it is one of three public buildings undertaken by the practice in the Darling Harbour Redevelopment Area, adjacent to Sydney’s CBD.

The concept for the centre principally arose from four objectives. The first was to continue the tradition of structurally innovative exhibition centres dating back to Joseph Paxton’s steel, wood and glass Crystal Palace in London. The second was to establish an integral relationship with a new park stretched along one frontage. Thirdly, it sought to convey a distinctive maritime theme conducive to a historic harbour port and finally, it needed to achieve 100 metre spans without creating a massively scaled edifice.

These objectives were met by a continuous mast and cable structure, proving to be both economical and to allow a low horizontal scale to be developed. From concept design, the entire project took 32 months to complete.

Since completion it has been acclaimed by the local MICE industry as an outstanding success. It remains today the leading convention and exhibition centre in Australia despite growing competition interstate. It continues to meet the functional and operational requirements of convenors and exhibitors.
It continues to be recognised as a leading facility in the Asia Pacific region and an environmentally sustainable venue.

Recent acknowledgements include:
1988: National Engineering Excellence Merit Award
1988: Finalist World Quaternario Awards
1989: RAIA (NSW) Sir John Sulman Medal
2001, 2003 – 11: Australasia’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre by the World Travel Awards
2008 – 11: Best Green Initiative Award Events Industry Association of Australasia
2009 and 2011: Green Globe Silver Certification
2010: Australian Event Awards Spice Magazine Best Venue
2011: Silver Certification by EarthCheck
2011: National Award for the Best Meeting Venue for 500 delegates plus by the Meetings and Events Australia
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was the first modern facility built in Australia post World War 2. On completion it established Sydney as a leading Convention and Exhibition destination.

The Sydney Exhibition Centre was the first major exhibition centre to be built in Australia since the Garden Palace. The Garden Palace was built in 1879 in the Royal Botanical Gardens to commemorate Australia’s Centenary. It was destroyed by fire less than three years after completion, leaving Sydney without an international standard exhibition facility for over a century.
It was also one of the key developments in establishing the redeveloped Darling Harbour Precinct in Sydney and anchoring Darling Harbour South.

The Sydney Exhibition Centre’s social significance is primarily derived from its continued use as the principle NSW venue for events, exhibitions and conferences attracting a large audience from far and wide. It is the premier exhibition centre in Australia and has been a major contributor to commercial development in New South Wales.
The Bicentennial projects brought international focus on Australia and Australian architecture.
Since then the Centre has continued as NSW’s principle venue for international events and conferences. A highlight being the venue’s prime role for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, bringing the Games to the CBD. It was the venue for boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing and judo with a total seating capacity for over 30,000 spectators.

1988 Bicentenary Darling Harbour, Photo by: Peter F. Williams

The Exhibition Centre is acknowledged as one of exemplary architectural design for its period and was a significant technical achievement. The use of a long-span masted tension structural system established new benchmarks in building design for the construction industry; after 1988 the practice’s ‘white stadia expressionism’ was adopted globally by other architects influencing the design of international sports and exhibition facilities.
The structural system for the Centre established new benchmarks in long span building design. Apart from its structural applicability, the mast and cable formation is intended to have an abstract nautical metaphor, thematically continued in its outriggers, bridges and panelled steel cladding.
A highly efficient structure, the building was erected in a short period of time. The integrated roof structure and cladding system allowed for easy and safe erection with minimal scaffolding.
In designing the facility, new standards were also established for fire engineering and fire safety. Research into crowd behaviour and fire loads helped established rational and economic approaches that have benefited many projects since and led to the alternative solution principles of the current codes.
This has been recognised internationally with the Centre being selected as a Finalist in the 1988 World Quaternario Awards and various national and state engineering awards such as the Building and Civil Design for the Roof Structure in 1987, the Commendation Building and Civil Design 1988, National Engineering Excellence Awards, plus the ACEA Special Merit Award 1988.


In response to the announcement by the NSW Government in December 2012 that it plans to demolish the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centres at Darling Harbour, a group of Sydney architects has created a website to raise awareness about the value and the fate of these buildings, and indirectly about city-making.

The website, Save the Centres, has discussion papers, building biographies and commentary by prominent architects and historians who suggest that the buildings could (and should) be repurposed far more economically than they could be replaced.

Specifically under threat are the Sydney Exhibition Centre by Philip Cox Richardson Taylor & Partners and the Sydney Convention Centre by John Andrews – the latter is one of the only Sydney buildings by this important Australian architect.

The website doesn’t attack the developers or the architects of proposed replacements, but makes the case that design solutions could be found to increase the buildings’ capacity, scale and connectivity in a more sustainable manner, in line with the progressive thinking of current UIA aims.

Professor Jennifer Taylor writes a brief reminder that, imperfect as it is, “The inner-city cultural precinct of Darling Harbour was born in a time of economic buoyancy and optimism for Sydney, and the major public buildings of the Exhibition Centre and the Convention Centre are representative of that time. They are part of the fabric and story of the city. Cities are not inert objects that can be dissected at will – they are the repositories of the history of the ideals and aspirations of the people who built them and the inheritance of those who follow.”

Andrew Andersons AO has contributed a report on the buildings and the proposal, in which he critiques the failure of process by the government and suggests alternatives to the demolition.

“It is difficult to find the logic in the NSW Government’s proposals to demolish three public buildings, less than thirty years old, designed by three of Australia’s best architects and to use their sites for replacement buildings. To do this, temporary buildings will need to be procured. To subsidize the cost of this, over 1,000 apartments, a high-rise hotel and thousands of metres of commercial space will be built in a manner that puts pressure on some of Sydney’s best parkland and foreshore promenade space.

“Development proposals for the site were invited by the O’Farrell Government without any apparent regard to assessment of the cultural, social and architectural significance of these sites. There has been no involvement of the general public to participate in a momentous decision of this kind.”

“The Exhibition Centre can be expanded to the South, to the SEC carpark site, by a lobby passing under the Pier Street overpass. If refurbishment is required, this would be far cheaper than providing a totally new building as well as a temporary facility … The Convention Centre could easily be expanded to the north to the Harbourside Shopping Centre site where it could complement a new ‘Landmark: Convention/Hotel development.’”

“The Harbourside shopping centre provides the opportunity for an outstanding extension of convention facilities and a superb site for a luxury hotel. The lessee of Harbourside could be assigned a lease of the ground and mezzanine levels of any new development as compensation. The Entertainment Centre car park provides significant opportunities to expand the Exhibition Building. The service yard of the SEC could be eliminated to improve connection with the north – south desire line to Quay Street. In such a scenario what is good about the legacy of the site would be maintained with exciting prospects for what would be new.”

A brief critique of the proposed replacement buildings are a part of Andersons’ report, along with concern for a smaller monument, of no lesser importance. “The faceted planar forms of the Convention Centre have a poor relationship to the freeway compared with the carefully considered geometry of the existing John Andrews building. The [proposed] building appears to ‘oversail’ Bob Woodward’s award-winning masterpiece, his recessed, helical fountain.”
THE government has revealed its billion-dollar transformation of Darling Harbour, with the aim of making Sydney's entertainment, convention and exhibition offerings the best in the country.
It will also enter into two separate agreements, valued at a further $1.5 billion, with Lend Lease to deliver a 900-room hotel and a new urban neighbourhood on more than a quarter of the 20-hectare site.
Lend Lease was part of the winning "Destination Sydney" consortium – which also includes AEG Ogden, Capella Capital and Spotless – announced on Tuesday as the government's preferred partner to deliver "world class" facilities to Sydney by December 2016.

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said the redevelopment, stretching from Cockle Bay to Haymarket and Ultimo, would deliver $5 billion in economic benefits to NSW over the life of the deal.
"Along with the development of Barangaroo, this project will transform the western fringe of Sydney's Central Business District and is the biggest and most exciting change to Darling Harbour in 25 years," he said.
The plan includes 40,000 square metres of exhibition space, comprising of 35,000 of dedicated space and 5,000sqm of flexible space.

The "biggest total meeting room space in Australia" at 8000sqm across 42 rooms would also link the convention and exhibition areas. A convention capacity accommodating more than 12,000 people over four different areas would allow multiple events to take place at the same time.
The plan boasts Sydney's largest ballroom, for at least 2000 people – double the current capacity – and a red-carpet entertainment facility with a capacity of at least 8000 people.
An extra hectare of public space will be "renewed and upgraded" to deliver an expanded Tumbalong Park that could accommodate an outdoor event for up to 25,000 people.

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