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."
"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."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.
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.