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Media Releases - Building Program

Issued Friday, 5 January 2007


Preliminary work starts this week on the Accessibility and Western Foyers Project, a project that will greatly improve accessibility for visitors to the House, an important milestone in Sydney Opera House’s history.

The Accessibility and Western Foyers Project will realise the vision of architect Jørn Utzon for the interior of this part of the building and will complement the exterior Colonnade, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in March 2006.

As the Colonnade has opened up panoramic views from the Playhouse, Studio and Drama Theatre foyers across the harbour, these next works will completely refurbish the Western Foyers interior. The works will also include construction of the Bennelong Lift and two new escalators, connecting the Lower Concourse, Western Foyers and Box Office Foyers with the Concert Hall and Opera Theatre Southern Foyers.

There are two distinct phases to the project, the advanced works package between January and September 2007, which is a preparatory stage, and the main project from October 2007 through to 2009.

During Phase One, the advanced works package involves demolition work and preparatory excavation work and will be complete by September. The Exhibition Hall will be closed to make way for the 40-person, Bennelong Lift and the creation of new toilet amenities.

Hoardings will be erected around the work area in the Western Foyers, first internally and then after Australia Day, externally.

There will be as little impact as possible on performances and all theatres will remain open. Planning of the works has been undertaken in consultation with stakeholders and noisy work will be undertaken outside performance times.

After Phase One is completed, construction of the Bennelong Lift, Western Foyer refurbishment and installation of escalators will commence, with completion due in 2009.

When the project was announced in August last year, Jørn Utzon said from his home in Denmark: ”From my point of view, and our point of view as architects, we want to give spectators and visitors to the Opera House a beautiful extra experience and we are so happy to have this opportunity to create such a lively, marvellous atmosphere.””

The architectural team is led by Jørn Utzon in partnership with his Denmark-based son, Jan Utzon, and leading Australian architect Richard Johnson of Johnson Pilton Walker. The project is being managed by the SOH Building Development Group, with Savills Strategic Project Delivery as the Project Manager. The building works have been funded by the NSW Government, with a budget of $10 million during Phase One, and $28 million during Phase Two that was announced by Premier Iemma in August 2006.

The Western Foyers & Accessibility Improvement Project is the third project, following the completion of the Utzon Room (2004) and the Colonnade (2006), to be undertaken since Jørn Utzon’s re-engagement as the building’s architect.


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