The Art Gallery of NSW has announced its Sydney Modern Project will be going ahead after the NSW Government found a builder to replace Lendlease following a costings dispute. Lendlease had originally tendered successfully to build the new addition to the gallery, but was removed from the project after the company costed the works above the budgeted $344 million. After re-tendering the project, the government has announced Richard Crookes Constructions as the new builders.
The addition, designed by Tokyo architecture firm Sanaa, was originally slated to be completed in late 2021. Following the re-tendering process, it will now open in early 2022, to correspond with the gallery’s 150th anniversary. Construction will commence in the next couple of months.
The building, which will be known as Sydney Modern, will double the AGNSW’s space. It’ll sit to the north of the original 19th-century building, with a public garden straddling the old and new structures. Sydney Modern will include a new destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, a 1160-square-metre column-free gallery with 5.5-metre-high ceilings and a glazed wall looking onto Woolloomooloo Bay for major exhibitions, an underground contemporary art space repurposed from an out-of-service WWII oil tank, and a number of spaces for learning programs.
Richard Crookes Constructions, a privately owned company, has been responsible for projects such as the Walsh Bay arts precinct (which houses institutions such as the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company, Bell Shakespeare and Bangarra Dance Theatre), the Summer Hill Flour Mill redevelopment and the Balmoral Bathers’ Pavilion restoration.
This project is the largest public-private collaboration of its kind to be achieved in Australian arts, with $244 million pledged by the NSW Government and a further $100 million from philanthropic donations.
The new gallery is the first public art museum in Australia to be awarded a six-star Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia for its sustainable design, which includes rainwater harvesting, solar panels and a seawater heat-exchange system for air conditioning.
The Art Gallery of NSW’s Sydney Modern building is slated to open in 2022.