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Winner announced for design of Canberra's new convention centre

LOCAL firm Guida Moseley Brown (GMB) and Rome-based architect Massimiliano Fuksas have been appointed to develop a reference design for the $500-700 million Canberra Convention Centre, after submitting an initial design that exhibited 'poetic and sculptural treatment of architectural form'.

A nine-member judging panel unanimously chose the initial design by Fuksas + GMB from a shortlist of seven teams. According to the panel, the winning team demonstrated outstanding urban design sensibility to the site through a concept that transformed and reinforced the primacy of City Hill.

Artist's impression of new Canberra Convention Centre
Above: Artist's impression of new Canberra Convention Centre from initial design by Fuksas + GMB / ACT Government.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr described the selection of an initial design as an important milestone in making the new convention centre investment-ready.

"The next step is for the winning architects to work with the ACT Government, industry and stakeholders to finalise a reference design and business case for the centre," he added.

National Convention Centre Canberra
Above: The existing National Convention Centre is located on Constitution Avenue, Canberra / by Pranav Bhatt.

Both GMB and Fuksas have a strong track record of successful design and delivery of large-scale public projects.  

GMB was responsible for Canberra International Airport, Parliament House and numerous public projects in South East Asia, while Fuksas recently completed international projects including the New Trade Fair in Milan and Shenzhen International Airport in Guangdong, China.

A new report prepared on behalf of the Canberra Business Chamber and the Canberra Convention Bureau was also released last week, which found that the new convention centre will strongly contribute to the ACT economy and employment in the region.

According to the report, construction of the new convention centre – known as Australia Forum – will result in a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 2.4 over 20 years.

"The expenditure of delegates attending Australia Forum events is estimated at $3 billion in the first 20 years. This is $1.6 billion more than the current convention facility is anticipated to bring into the economy," said CBC Chief Executive Officer, Chris Faulks.

"Economic returns on offer from the Australia Forum could be even higher than the BCR suggests, as it does not take into account additional inputs to the local economy from people accompanying conference attendees or the boost to tourism from extended stays and people returning for a holiday in the future," Mr Faulks continued.

"We commend the ACT Government for providing funding in the 2014-15 Budget to develop a business case and functional design for the Australia Forum. This work is now underway and we expect it to be completed by the middle of the year.

"The ACT Government has committed to having the Australia Forum at investment ready stage by 2016. It has earmarked a further $8 million in the forward estimates and this needs to be allocated in the upcoming budget to ensure work can continue beyond 30 June 2015."

Image: Artist's impression of new Canberra Convention Centre from initial design by Fuksas + GMB / ACT Government.
Photo: National Convention Centre Canberra / Pranav Bhatt / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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