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Media Releases - Building Program

Issued Friday, 17 October 2003


On the eve of a weekend of 30th birthday celebrations, the Premier of NSW and Minister for the Arts, Bob Carr has announced that work will begin in a fortnight on the reception hall, on the eastern side of Sydney’s famed Opera House.

The new venue will be the only completely authentic Utzon-designed interior in the Opera House. The interior was completed after Mr Utzon left the project in 1966.

Mr Carr said when work is completed by mid next year, the reception hall would be transformed into a multi-purpose venue, with first-class acoustics and a 250-seat space for chamber recitals, schools and family concerts.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Sydney Opera House than to pay tribute in this way to the building’s original architect, Jørn Utzon,” the Premier said.

“Mr Utzon had always intended that this beautiful space, with its harbour setting, be used for intimate musical performances.

“I am delighted that his dream is finally being fulfilled,” Mr Carr said.

Mr Utzon is designing every last detail of the room, from the light fittings, to the furniture, the 14 metre tapestry lining the western wall - even the type of glass to be used in the room’s easterly windows facing Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

Since his re-engagement to work on the Opera House in 1999, Mr Utzon – now 85 – has worked on a series of improvements to the building, including:

  • The opening up of the western boardwalk with a series of colonnades;
  • Improvements to the acoustics in the Concert Hall; and
  • The expansion of the opera theatre pit.

Mr Carr said that once completed the new multi-purpose venue would continue to be used for receptions, with the welcome addition of a lift for disabled patrons.

As the only authentic Utzon designed interior the new venue is expected to be a popular stopping point for visitors on guided tours.

Work on the reception hall is part of almost $70 million in improvements announced by the NSW Government last year.


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