Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre

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Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.jpg
Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Former names
  • Sydney Exhibition Centre
  • Sydney Convention Centre
General information
TypeConvention center
Architectural styleModern architecture
AddressDarling Harbour
Town or citySydney, New South Wales
Coordinates33°52′33″S 151°12′01″E / 33.87585°S 151.20015°E / -33.87585; 151.20015Coordinates: 33°52′33″S 151°12′01″E / 33.87585°S 151.20015°E / -33.87585; 151.20015
CostA$80 million
ClientDarling Harbour Authority
OwnerNSW Government
Technical details
Floor count3
Floor area35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architecture firmPhilip Cox Richardson Taylor Partners
Main contractorLeighton Contractors
Renovating team
Renovating firm2013 Redevelopment: Architects: Populous with Hassell, AEG Ogden, Lend Lease, Capella Capital and Spotless

The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, completed in 1988 and closed in 2013 to undergo demolition and revitalisation, was Australia's first fully integrated convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct.

The new Centre, renamed as the International Convention Centre Sydney, was built on the footprint of the 1988 Centre and was opened in December 2016.[1] The new venue is part of an AU$3.4b revitalisation of Darling Harbour by the NSW Government. An interim facility for large consumer and trade shows, the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island, opened in February 2014 and operated during the construction of the new Darling Harbour facilities.


The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was officially opened in 1988, with a new section of the centre added for the 2000 Summer Olympics. During those games, the venue played host to the boxing, fencing, judo, weightlifting, and wrestling competitions. The building was owned by the State Government of New South Wales, with the centre administration and business run initially by a company Called Arena Meetings Conventions and Exhibitions, which at the time also operated the Sydney Entertainment centre since the date of its opening. They were awarded the contract to commission and operate the site for the first 5 years of its operations. The Accor Hotel Group subsequently gained the second 5-year term on a competitive bid basis. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was used as a conference and convention venue and to hold exhibitions, as well as hosting various smaller events such as weddings and meetings. The Convention Centre had around 30 rooms, ranging from small meeting rooms to a 3,500 capacity auditorium, as well as foyer areas and other spaces which can be adapted for use as an exhibition space or pre-dinner function venue. The Exhibition Centre consisted of initially five primary halls, and was subsequently expanded to 6 and was used primarily for exhibitions, but also for gala dinners and other large-scale events.

The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was used as the biggest venue for the Sydney Olympic Games outside of Sydney Olympic Park.[2]

The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was a key meeting venue of APEC Australia 2007 in September, 2007 when the political leaders of the 21 member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation met. The venue was host to the Business Leader's Summit held in conjunction with APEC Leader's Week.

Architecture Award[edit]

The 1989 Australian Institute of Architects Sir John Sulman Medal for Public Architecture was jointly awarded to Philip Cox Richardson Taylor Partners for the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour. The design team was also presented with the 2007 Excellence in Construction Award by the Master Builders Association; were finalists in the 1988 World Quaternario Award; and received a Commendation in Building and Civil Design at the 1988 National Engineering Excellence Awards.[3]

Criticism of demolition[edit]

Convention Centre in process of demolition March 2014
Exhibition Centre in process of demolition March 2014

Architects John Andrews and Philip Cox spoke out over the demolition of the convention and exhibition buildings completed in 1988, blasting the demolition plans as "rather stupid". Andrews was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on 16 January 2014, stating:[4]

"Does it make sense to pull down $120 million worth of [building] that's perfectly all right?" he said. "As Australia, we just haven't grown up, we haven't developed any good manners and we don't protect and look after our good things." Andrews, 79, joins architect Philip Cox, who designed the adjoining exhibition centre, in lambasting plans to destroy the buildings rather than incorporate them into the new design.

Infrastructure NSW says Sydney needs world-class facilities to more effectively compete for large events, and the existing buildings are too small to meet demand. But Mr Andrews questioned why the centre couldn't be expanded. "I don't understand why the [new] architects … are so keen to knock everything down, he said. Why don't they just reuse things and add to them?"

Authorities did not ring to advise him of the building's pending demolition - he learnt of it while reading the newspaper. Considered one of Australia's most important architects, Mr Andrews is renowned for the futuristic Intelsat Headquarters in Washington, the CN Tower in Toronto and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

In Australia, he designed the Cameron Offices in Canberra, the American Express Tower in Sydney and convention centres in Melbourne and Adelaide. The decision to destroy the semi-circular convention centre displayed "a lack of understanding of history, of architecture or city planning", he said.

An INSW spokeswoman said until the Lend Lease consortium was announced as the chosen developer last month, "we didn't have a proposal to discuss with any architect". The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority was legally obliged to consult with the architects "only a few weeks prior to demolition", however, it planned to "go beyond the requirement to ensure the relevant architects have plenty of time to understand the proposed development, provide their feedback and record their work," the spokeswoman said.


The Sydney Monorail and Inner West Light Rail provided public transport to the centre. The monorail opened in 1988 and shut down in 2013. The light rail opened in 1997. The Convention and Exhibition Centre stations are named after the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wright, Louisa (13 December 2016). "International Convention Centre Sydney opens". ArchitectureAU. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  2. ^ "2000 Summer Olympics official report.] Volume 1. p. 383" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Sydney Exhibition Centre, 1998: Awards". Architecture. COX Architecture. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ Hasham, Nicole (16 January 2013). "Architect lashes out at 'stupid' demolition". The Sydney Morning Herald.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Wikimedia Commons