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Five architects selected for Stage Two of Sydney Modern Project

Design competition underway to transform the Art Gallery of New South Wales

19 January 2015

Five renowned Australian and international architectural practices have been selected for Stage 2 of the Sydney Modern Project design competition. The Sydney Modern Project will significantly expand the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ contribution to the culture, social life and economy of Sydney, Australia’s leading global city.

Gallery Director Dr Michael Brand said each of the five selected practices had the potential to deliver an exceptional design for the Gallery. 'Our vision is for an inspirational design open to all the possibilities for art – a museum for the 21st century that will excite and engage audiences locally, nationally and internationally.’

'Each of the five selected practices demonstrated insight and sensitivity to place and a diversity of approach to creating built forms. I am confident the winner will create something quite extraordinary for Sydney,’ Dr Brand said.

The shortlisted architects in this stage of the competition are:

  • Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA Tokyo
  • Kengo Kuma & Associates Tokyo and Paris
  • Kerry Hill Architects Singapore and Perth
  • RMA Architects (Rahul Mehrotra Architects) Mumbai and Boston
  • Sean Godsell Architects Melbourne

'We were excited by the quality of design and the potential for inspiration expressed by each of the practices. It was challenging to narrow down such an impressive field to further develop their concept.’

'These high-level concepts explored a variety of possibilities for our site and its connection to the city, the harbour and the adjacent landscape including options for visitors to experience art both indoors and outdoors,’ Dr Brand said.

Mr Guido Belgiorno-Nettis AM, President of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees, said the Sydney Modern Project would enable the Gallery to welcome and engage a growing number of visitors from around Australia and the world.

'Sydney is a global destination and art museums play an important role in that experience,’ Mr Belgiorno-Nettis said.

'The Sydney Modern Project will link the existing gallery with a new building featuring dynamic spaces for major exhibitions and collection displays, a multipurpose theatre, learning and interactive spaces and expanded restaurant, cafe and event spaces. Importantly, it will also deliver badly needed operational improvements. The Sydney Modern Project will provide a facility that competes globally for audiences and adds to the uniqueness of our beautiful city in both form and function,’ Mr Belgiorno-Nettis said.

The five practices were selected by the Sydney Modern Project Jury, chaired by Dr Brand, from a previous shortlist of 12 who were invited to participate in Stage 1 of the competition, announced in October 2014. Each of the 12 shortlisted practices developed a high-level concept for the Sydney Modern Project, which was assessed anonymously by the jury under a process overseen by an independent probity auditor. Based on the five final submissions, in April 2015 the jury will select one architectural practice to work closely with the Gallery and stakeholders to develop a detailed design.

'The Sydney Modern Jury is incredibly enthused about selecting one of these five practices to work with the Gallery to design an art museum for the 21st century. We have an exciting few years ahead with fantastic opportunities for the community to partner with us to deliver our vision,’ Dr Brand said.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has endorsed the competition process. Sydney architect and Immediate Past President of the AIA Mr Paul Berkemeier said, 'The Gallery has approached the Sydney Modern Project in an exemplary way.’

'Architecture is increasingly a national and international profession. The winning practice will inevitably establish a major presence in Sydney, either in its own right or in partnership with a local firm, providing strong opportunities for engagement with the New South Wales architectural community,’ Mr Berkemeier said.

The Australian and international design competition is being funded through a $10.8 million contribution from the NSW Government, provided as part of the 2014-15 State Budget.


Sydney Modern Jury members are:

  • Dr Michael Brand (Chair) Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Ms Kathryn Gustafson Internationally recognised landscape architect with over 30 years of distinguished practice with landscape architects Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (Seattle) and Gustafson Porter (London)
  • Mr Michael Lynch CBE AM CEO West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong
  • Professor Toshiko Mori Robert P Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
  • Professor Glenn Murcutt AO Internationally acclaimed Australian architect and recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2002, Sydney
  • Professor Juhani Pallasmaa Architect, professor emeritus and widely published writer, Helsinki
  • Ms Hetti Perkins Member of the Eastern Arrernte and Kalkadoon Aboriginal communities and internationally acclaimed curator, filmmaker and author, Sydney

Media contact

Alison Scown
Tel 02 9387 2600
Mob 0408 165 377