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Sydney Opera House History 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2008 History

2004 - 2008 History

2004 (16 September)

Utzon designed Reception Hall opened

The rebuilt Reception Hall, the only authentic interior space designed by Utzon, is officially opened by NSW Premier Bob Carr, who announced its renaming as the Utzon Room. The versatile new Utzon Room features quality acoustics, Utzon’s signature natural timbers and his dramatic creation, a 14m floor-to-ceiling tapestry.

When asked if he would agree to the room being named after him, Utzon said “it was the greatest honour he could ever receive.”


Work begins on transformation of Western Broadwalk with Colonnade

With heritage and development approvals received, work begins on the transformation of the Western Foyers and Boardwalk, which will fulfil Utzon’s vision for the Harbour to be the focal point for all Sydney Opera House venues.

This is the first structural change to the exterior of the building since it opened in 1973. Designed by Utzon, the Colonnade provides a spectacular setting for visitors, international tourists and theatre patrons and enlivens the Western Broadwalk.

While developing his designs for the Colonnade, Utzon said that, “The present (theatre) Foyer is not giving you the feeling of being on the Bennelong Peninsula. The Harbour Bridge is marvellous yet you can’t see it. With a colonnade on the western side for protection, this will open up the entry to the Drama Theatre, The Studio and the Playhouse.”

Nine openings are created – six new large deep set windows and three glass doors. With the inclusion of these new openings, the foyers are flooded with natural light and for the first time patrons enjoy water and city views – one of Utzon’s key principles in his original design for Sydney Opera House.


Mr Kim Williams, AM, begins tenure as Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust.

2005 (5 January)

Early work begins on significant access improvements for Sydney Opera House

Preliminary work starts on the Accessibility and Western Foyers Project, to greatly improve accessibility for visitors to the House.

The 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 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A glass lift that can hold up to 50 people and escalators from the foyers to the main venues will make it easier for elderly patrons and visitors with a mobility issue to get to their seats.

2005 (5 January)

The Studio of Jørn Utzon: Creating the Sydney Opera House

The studio of Jørn Utzon is the most comprehensive exhibition of the designs and inspirations of Danish architect Jørn Utzon for Sydney Opera House. The exhibition portrays Utzon’s personal design process and reflects the diverse sources of his inspiration.

It includes many items which have not been exhibited previously, including his original competition drawings for Sydney Opera House and his final unrealised schemes for the Opera House’s interiors, completed in 1966 shortly before he left Sydney.

It also includes his current ideas as he works again on Sydney Opera House as its architect, in collaboration with his son, architect Jan Utzon and Australian architect, Richard Johnson.

The exhibition was curated by Historic Houses Trust and exhibited at the Museum of Sydney. 

2005 (3 December)

Sydney Opera House gains National Heritage Listing

Sydney Opera House is officially recognised for its outstanding heritage value and included on the National Heritage List. Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said, “The Opera House is a vital part of Australia’s cultural heritage and most worthy of the protection provided by the listing.

“Since its emergence on the Australian stage in 1957 when Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s outstanding design won an international competition, the Opera House has become a symbol of Australia.”

2006 (13 March)

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opens new Colonnade

Unveiling the first exterior change to the building since its completion in 1973, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II formally opens the new Colonnade in the presence of Jan Utzon and NSW Premier Morris Iemma.


Sydney Opera House is nominated for World Heritage List

Sydney Opera House is officially nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The despatch of the official submission to Paris is announced on the Opera House steps by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, NSW Arts Minister Bob Debus and NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor.


Sydney Opera House introduces new foreign language guided tours

Sydney Opera House becomes Australia’s first major tourist attraction to offer foreign language tours. In response to the increase in Asian visitors to the building, guided tours are offered in Korean, Japanese and Mandarin.

2007 (20 March)

Sydney Opera House launches new brand.

2007 (August)

Sue Nattrass, AO, begins her tenure as interim Chief Executive at Sydney Opera House.

2007 (28 June)

Sydney Opera House added to the World Heritage List

The Sydney Opera House community celebrates being added to the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee stated:”….it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”

2007 (2-10 September)

Sydney Opera House a major venue for APEC Leaders Week

Sydney Opera House is the venue for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week in September 2007 attended by 21 World Leaders - the most significant diplomatic and security event ever held in Australia. The Leaders hold their first Retreat in The Studio, enjoy a gala concert in the Concert Hall and attend a formal dinner in the Northern Foyer.

2008 (January)

Richard Evans begins his tenure as Chief Executive of Sydney Opera House.

2008 (May)

FIFA World Congress

The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) held the opening ceremony and banquet of its World Congress which was attended by delegates from 208 nations and the Australian Prime Minister. 

2008 (July)

World Youth Day

A variety of events were held in the Concert Hall, Studio and Forecourt as part of World Youth Day 2008, the largest youth event in the world.  Highlights included the motorcade of Pope Benedict XVI visiting the Sydney Opera House site and a live re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross on the Forecourt.

2008 (November)

Sydney Opera House pays tribute to Jørn Utzon

Visionary Sydney Opera House architect, Jørn Utzon, died peacefully in his sleep  in Copenhagen on 29 November. He was 90 years old.


HE – His/Her Excellency
HRH – His/Her Royal Highness
TRH – Their Royal Highnesses


Hon Dr Cyril Svoboda, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic, and Mrs Svobodova
Mrs Michelle Bachelet, Minister for Defence, Chile


Mrs Cherie Blair, Wife of the British Prime Minister
HE Göran Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden
HE Mr Moshe Katsav, President of Israel, & Mrs Gila Katsav
HRH Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark & HRH Crown Princess Mary
Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway
HRH Princess Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden
HE Sir Nathaniel Waena, GCMG, GG of the Solomon Islands, and HE Lady Waena
HE Mr Wu Bannguo, Chairman, Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, People's Republic of China and Madam Ruizhen
HE Mr Borislav Paravac, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia /Herzegovina
Mr Svend Auken, MP, Vice-President of the Danish Parliament
HE Penengiran Datin Masrainah Ahmad, High Commissioner, Brunei Darussalam
Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden
Mr Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States of America
HRH Princess Lalla Salma, The Princess Consort [Wife of the King of Morocco]


HE Mr Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and Mrs Alma Adamkiene
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II & HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
The Hon Ratanasiri Wickremanayake MP, Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
HRH The Prince of Orange& HRH Princess Máxima of The Netherlands


HE Ms Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland
HRH Prince Faisal al Saud, Foreign Minister of Saudi-Arabia
HE Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Mr Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico
Mr George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
HE Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines
HE Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia
HE Hu Jintao, President of China
HE Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore
HE Nguyễn Minh Triết, President of Vietnam
HE Roh Moo-hyun, President of South Korea
HE Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
HE Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand
HE Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia
HE Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation
His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei-Darussalam
Hon Mr Alan García, President of Peru
Mrs Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile
Hon Helen Clark,MP Prime Minister of New Zealand
Hon Sir Michael Somare GCL, GCMG, CH, CF, MP, Prime Minister of Papua New-Guinea
Hon Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada


His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
HE Dr Jose Ramos-Horte, President of Timor-Leste (East Timor)
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