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Sydney Opera House Slated for Renewal

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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One of the world’s most recognizable buildings is getting a renovation, to the tune of AU$202 million.

The Sydney Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon and opened in 1973, will undergo an 18-month-long “renewal” starting in 2019, according to the organization that owns it. It will be the largest single set of upgrades to the building in its history.

Sydney Opera House exterior
By Jimmy Harris - CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

The Sydney Opera House, one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, is set to undergo AU$202 million in renovations in 2019.

The government of New South Wales, the state in which Sydney lies, is putting forth the AU$202 million (about $154.8 million) from its Cultural Infrastructure Fund to bankroll the reno.


Plans include upgrades to the main concert hall to improve acoustics and accessibility; a new Creative Learning Centre that will take the place of some current offices; removal of a marquee on the Northern Boardwalk; and the creation of a “welcoming, car-free entrance under the Monumental Steps.”

Additionally, in a AU$45 million project to renovate the center’s Joan Sutherland Theater, replacing infrastructure that powers the moving parts in the stage and lighting systems, will begin in 2017. That project is funded by the Opera House.

No major changes are planned to the building’s famous facade.

Adapting to Changes

Jan Utzon, son of the Opera House’s famous designer and an architect in his own right, sits on the building’s Eminent Architects Panel and worked with his father on re-examining its function in more recent years before the elder Utzon’s death in 2008.

Opera house interior rendering
Sydney Opera House Trust

Renovation plans include upgrades to the main concert hall to improve acoustics and accessibility. (Artist's rendering of improvements)

“When my father was re-engaged to look into the Opera House, he realized it was necessary to look at the Opera House with new eyes,” Jan Utzon said. “He realized times had changed and that a functioning arts center will always need to adapt to the culture of the moment.”

8 Million Visitors Yearly

According to Opera House representatives, the cultural center brings in 8.2 million visitors annually, and drives AU$775 million to the New South Wales economy each year.

“The Sydney Opera House is a symbol of modern Australia,” said New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant. “It is our responsibility as custodians of this extraordinary place to maintain and renew it for all Australians.”


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Renovation

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