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Sydney Town Hall to Reopen in March 2010

Sydney’s Town Hall will  reopen to the public in March 2010 after $40 million safety works.
12 February 2010

Sydney Town Hall will be reopened to the public after a $40 million essential services, internal safety and fire services upgrade – concluding stage one of a five-year rescue plan to protect the 19th century building for future generations. 

Lord Mayor Clover Moore invites the community to reclaim its historic Town Hall after a 23-month closure to carry out a major fire safety and essential services upgrade. The opportunity was also taken to transform the Lower Town Hall and improve community function rooms and exhibition spaces.

“After spending $40 million dollars on fire safety, the essential services upgrade and associated necessary internal renovations, we are reopening the doors of this iconic civic building to the people of Sydney. We have completed the first comprehensive overhaul of building services since the 1930s!” Ms Moore said.

“We’ve seized the opportunity to green the building. New plant, sustainable lighting and control and automatic cut-off systems give about 30% energy efficiency, and we have installed the city’s largest array of solar panels on the northern roof supplementing 48KW of power.”

“We had to act! Wiring and piping was old, the plant and operating systems inefficient. Most critically, fire safety for the protection of the building and its occupants including 360,000 visitors annually, was not in accordance with current codes.”

“A three tiered fire protection system comprising early warning alarms, fire sprinklers to the whole building and smoke exhausting and exit lighting for safe emergency egress, now make this large and important public venue code compliant.”

“Smoke extractors, lighting and audio-visual cabling, ensure the hall meets all current standards and requirements for a performing arts venue.”

“We have brought this building into the modern era while retaining its historic charm.”

State of the art fire-fighting systems include a special system of inert gas cylinders to stop potential fires in the curatorial store, where water from sprinklers would damage precious historic artifacts. Town Hall’s organ, one of the worlds greatest, now has its own fire system and humidifier to regulate moisture, ensuring the old cedar and leather bellows do not dry out.

“Much of this work has been designed to be invisible, new sprinklers have been installed throughout the corridors and tucked unobtrusively into the arches to protect the $530 million heritage building,” Ms Moore said.

“It’s hard for politicians to spend money on things you can’t see, but that was our aim and where possible services have been concealed. I defy you to spot the sprinkler heads in the decorated ceilings and arches of the public areas.”

“As well as substantial restoration work in affected areas, we also took the initiative to transform Lower Town Hall into a more accessible and attractive multi-purpose public venue, and provide exhibition spaces where City treasures and historic artefacts can be put on public display.”

The City of Sydney has been working closely with the NSW Heritage Council on the work, which also involved supporting Centennial Hall on a temporary steel trussed bridge while excavating a basement to house the new operating systems, new cabling and storm-water infrastructure.

Work also includes:

  • More than 1200 sprinkler heads, 1.2 kms of sprinkler pipes, 1.4 km of water pipes and 58 km of new cabling installed in a heritage building which had no roof space to hide them.
  • A three tier fire protection system comprising early warning alarms, fully compliant fire sprinkling to the whole building and a smoke exhaust system to protect occupants.
  • An extensive refurbishment of Lower Town Hall, below the main hall to make it a usable, multi-purpose facility for events and exhibitions.
  • A new function room in the former vaults of the building, which once held the Council’s archives and records, along with cash reserves.
  • More than 1700 new, energy efficient lights, smart sensors to switch lights off and the installation of the largest array of solar panels in the CBD on the northern roof.
  • A new multifunctional exhibition space for a wide range of exhibitions and special events. 
  • A new museum-grade curatorial storage area, with full climate control, and a state of the art fire system to ensure historic items are protected.  
  • Stage two of the Sydney Town Hall rescue plan is now underway and will include repair of the threatened sandstone facade which has faced more than 100 years of exposure to the weather and pollution.
  • A major refurbishment has begun of the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ which is one of the world’s largest with more than 8,700 pipes. 

Sydney Town Hall will officially reopen to the public on Friday 5 March 2010 with three days of celebrations including open days, exhibitions and two free music performances. As the City’s leading public multi-purpose venue, Sydney Town Hall is used for community, corporate and charity functions, school speech days, university graduations, meetings and conferences, concerts, fashion parades and other cultural, community and civic events.

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