Old Royal Adelaide Hospital’s New Modern Art Gallery

Developers of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site are hoping to invest $195 million on a modern art gallery and underground concert hall, then lease them back to the State Government. In a potential breakthrough for the ambitious Art Gallery extension, the privately financed project has been proposed for the North Tce frontage of the soon-to-be-vacated 7ha website. It’s known Adelaide-based Commercial & General, named last October as the preferred developer, has secured financial backing from a significant superannuation fund.

C&G’s offer entails construction, in a row along North Tce, a $125 million modern pub and a $70 million underground concert hall, alongside a $100 million, 180-room, five-star resort adjacent the Botanic Gardens. The gallery and concert hall could then be leased back to the State Government for an as-yet undetermined period, possibly 20 years. The Advertiser was advised the possibility of a long-term, steady rental arrangement has attracted attention from the possible super fund investor. But a source close to the project said the deal also came with “a lot of caveats” but didn’t give additional details.

The gallery, concert hall and hotel could be built atop an existing large basement as a second storey extension idea, now employed by the hospital, which would slash building costs by home shared  plumbing and other building infrastructure. The new cultural precinct would produce a lucrative drawcard for its 15-year development, which is spurring the financing offer from C&G and its consortium partner, Chinese-owned property company John Holland.

The South Australian government has established a two-stage global design competition for a new art gallery at centre of Adelaide. Known as Adelaide Contemporary, the proposed 15,000-square-metre gallery is going to be a new milestone for the city – a “unique artwork destination” that combines a modern art gallery with a public sculpture park made of laminated timber frames and meeting location.

The government envisions the gallery that is projected as being “uniquely Adelaide,” Drawing the city’s progressive reputation and culture as a “city of festivals.” The gallery will be located at the eastern end of the previous Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace, adjacent to the Adelaide Botanic Garden. The site, 400 metres from the Art Gallery of South Australia, will bookend the “cultural boulevard” of the city on North Terrace.

The gallery will be the first new construction commission to the Art Gallery of South Australia since 1996, once the historic building by authorities architect Alfred Simpson was revived and extended by Peddle Thorp Walker and Robert Dickson. The project will incorporate art, education, character and people and will feature accessible community meeting spaces. The competition brief calls for an “environmentally conscious and future-facing design.”

The gallery will be home to the world’s first “Gallery of Time” that will feature South Australia’s collection of historical and contemporary Indigenous art and works by European and Asian artists. Additionally, it will require spaces for globally significant installments, “blockbuster” temporary exhibitions and spaces to display picture, performance and layout installed by low loader hire equipment and slab cranes.

The two-stage contest comprises a first open call for expressions of interest, open to Australian and global architects. The government is looking for architect-led teams that also include landscape architects and might consist of way finding experts, availability consultants, artists and home extension builders and designers or other creative collaborators. Up six teams will be chosen to develop concept designs for phase two. Teams moving to stage two must include Australian registered architects. A $90,000 honorarium will be paid to every stage-two shortlisted team.

Michael Lynch, former chief Executive of the Sydney Opera House, will chair the competition jury, which is yet to be declared. An announcement of the shortlisted if scheduled for Mid-December 2017 and the winner will be announced in late-May or early June 2018. A public exhibition of shortlisted designs will be held in Adelaide before jury deliberations. The contest will inform final business case and funding approval for your project after the infrastructure related to the commercial plumbing services and gas installations are organised.

Adelaide Contemporary will be a key component of an advanced, mixed-use urban quarter in the redevelopment of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site. The South Australian government dumped the private consortium chosen to development the former hospital site in September since the last proposal hadn’t presented the best value for taxpayers.

The government, through its regeneration agency Renewal SA, have taken management of the redevelopment of seven-hectare site. In addition to a new gallery, the government’s vision for the precinct comprises a new minimum five-star resort; new uses for its heritage buildings with engineered architectural timbers; and returning two hectares of the site to the adjacent Botanic Gardens and has sought a landscape architect for the layout.

Urban Development Minister Stephen Mullighan said an expert team was developing a business case to get a new cultural centre in Adelaide, independently of discussions with the older RAH project consortium. However, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall stated that he was worried Labour could hurt taxpayers for decades with gigantic lease obligations or the deal could fall through, regardless of the site’s terrific development prospect.

A major report is expected in weeks into options for a new Adelaide modern gallery, prepared by a steering group of prominent Australians spearheaded by former Sydney Opera House manager Michael Lynch. This will detail a proposed version, preferred site and funding options, shortlisted crane and low loader hire companies for consideration by the Government before the year’s State Budget. The steering group was exploring sites, including the present hospital, the Torrens Riverbank precinct and Port Adelaide’s inner harbour.

The government plans to start up 70 percent of the site to the general public, in addition to develop research and educational facilities and spaces for commercial tenancies. The personal proposal intended to construct 1080 flats, 150 student dwellings and 60 supported residential aged care dwellings. The government plans to substantially lower the residential development, rather focusing on student lodging, aged-care living and short-term accommodation.