Of the naming of the room in his honour, Utzon said: “It gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don't think you can give me more joy as the architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have got.”
The Utzon Room was followed by the first alteration to the exterior of the building: the addition of a Colonnade along the western side, which shades nine large glass openings into the previously solid exterior wall. This Utzon-led project, which was completed in 2006, gave the theatre foyers their first view of Sydney Harbour through windows modelled on Can Lis, the house he had built in Majorca. The foyers' interiors were also renovated to Utzon's specifications to become a coherent, attractive space for patrons.
On all projects, he worked with his architect son Jan and Sydney-based architect Richard Johnson of Johnson Pilton Walker.
In 2013, the Opera House celebrated the 40th anniversary of its opening. Embodying the enduring links between Australia and Denmark first forged by the Opera House, the Danish Crown Prince Couple, HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary, were the official patrons of the 40th anniversary celebrations, which spanned 17 events attended by more than 30,000 people.
As part of the 40th anniversary, Deloitte delivered a report that estimated the value of the Opera House at $4.6 billion, underlining the scale of the windfall Australia has reaped from the vision and daring of previous generations.
The 40th anniversary also marked the beginning of the Opera House’s Decade of Renewal, a series of projects designed to ensure that Australia’s most famous building and busiest performing arts centre continued to inspire future generations of artists, audiences and visitors. The project touched all corners of the building, opening it to the public as never before. It was a finely tuned transformation that fused heritage and integrity with cutting-edge technology to ensure the Opera House lived up to the promise of the building itself.
The Decade of Renewal was the largest program of capital works since the Opera House opened in 1973. Generously funded by the NSW Government, the project involved replacing technology and machinery that had reached the end of their working life, opening new areas to the public and ensuring the Opera House was properly equipped to welcome as many people in as many ways as possible. The once-in-a-generation upgrade, totalling almost $300 million, culminated in the completion of the Concert Hall, which reopened in July 2022. As the Opera House prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023, the stage has been set for a new era of creativity and connection.
Read Utzon's Design Principles