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Sydney Opera House Story: a chronology 1606 to date





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The Sydney Opera House Story: 2014 -

In response to visitor demand, this chronology has been compiled by Paul Bentley to record the story of the Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts and associated projects within the context of the Sydney Opera House story, theatrical associations with the Bennelong Point site, Jørn Utzon’s involvement with the House and changes to the building. It draws on and updates Philip Drew’s extensive chronology Utzon and the Sydney Opera House and a number of other sources. See also Sydney Opera House: an annotated list of sources

1606-1956 | 1957-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2005 | 2006-2007 | 2008 | 2009-2010 | 2011-2013 | 2014-


Jan 19 Elias Duek-Cohen dies. Born on 2 January 1926, Duek-Cohen was the author of Utzon and the Sydney Opera House: a statement in the public interest (Sydney, 1967), advocating the return of Utzon to the Opera House project. He was the founder of the Utzon-in-Charge Group and helped to found the Sydney Opera House Society in 1968. Obituary: Sydney Morning Herald 20 February 2014.
Mar 5

Brian Benjamin, in Sydney Opera House Lack Transparency, reflecting on the difficulty of activity-based costing in organisations of this type, writes that the Opera House “seems to be doing the right things in a competitive environment with growth in self-presented performances, but it needs to improve its financial reporting.” Following criticism by the Victorian government of management at the Victorian Arts Centre, Benjamin, in search of exemplar financial reporting transparency, Benjamin found it difficult to understand how well the Opera House performed as a business, particularly in relation to the actual cost of activities. Although the Opera House reported attendances were up, patron contributions per performance were up, and government subsidies per patron were trending down in the period 2006-2013, he wrote that it provided only coarse-grained details on its costs, making it difficult to assess its cost performance. [ArtsHub

Mar 11-12 There is speculation about delays over the Bennelong Restaurant lease, after the Van Haandel Group terminates its contract by mutual consent with the Opera House for the development of Stokehouse at the Bennelong. John Lethlean, in No Bookings Yet for the Opera House's Vacant Bennelong Restaurant Site (The Australian 12 March) estimates the Opera House is losing $20,000 a week from the delays, based on a projected annual rental in excess of $1 million on a $10 million turnover. Van Haandel's flagship restaurant, Stokehouse in St Kilda, burned down on 17 January. The Opera House was reported to be reassessing its original plans to “democratise” dining at the Opera House ( Other sources: Heath Gilmore, Bennelong Plans in Disarray after Stokehouse Team Pulls Out of Opera House Deal (Sydney Morning Herald 11 March; New Sydney Opera House Restaurant at Bennelong Delayed by Stokehouse St Kilda Fire (Daily Telegraph, 11 March, which reports delays are partly due to complications surrounding the redevelopment of the site, which is notoriously difficult due to heritage requirements.
Mar 7 The 4th International Utzon Symposium Is held at the Sydney Opera House 7-8 March under the theme, What would Utzon Do Now? Among the presentations were Visions of an Interactive Utzon Archive: Tangible, Visual and Interactive Experiences of Utzon Works by Liselott Stenfeldt (Aarhus University) and Kaj Grønbæk (Alexandra Institute, Denmark); Sydney Opera House Practical Conservation Management Tools by Sheridan Burke (ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Twentieth Century Heritage, GML Heritage, Sydney); Setting the Record Straight by Gerard Reinmuth (University of Technology, Sydney); The Sydney Opera House as ‘Influent’: A Case Study in Yield of Cultural Capital From Community Initiative by Bob Perry and Scott Carver (Australia); Following Utzon's Footsteps in Hawaii: From the North Shore of Oahu to the Bagsværd church in Denmark by Marja Sarvimäki (University Of Hawaii, United States); Respecting the 'Place-scape' of Utzon’s Opera House: Have We Even Tried? by Joan Domicelj (Australia); What Would Utzon Do Now? by Ken Woolley (Australia); Then and Now, or Can We Complete Jørn Utzon's Opera House? by Peter Meyers. Source:
Apr 11 The exhibition, Building the Sydney Opera House, opens at the Arup offices, 8 Fitzroy Street, London. Depicting the evolution of the Opera House design, it focuses on the roof structure (Stage 2) and the design of the glass walls by architect Peter Hall. Curated by Arup’s Jennifer Greitschus and Anne Watson, it includes photographs by Max Dupain, historical drawings from the Arup archives, a model showing the spherical roof geometry from the Arup collection, a model of the crane from the Dennis Wolanski Archives of the Sydney Opera House, and early models of the roof structure on loan from the Utzon Archives, Aalborg University, Denmark. The exhibition also features a digitally fabricated model showcasing the roof structure and a new documentary film with interviews from a number of people who worked on the Opera House, including Sir Jack Zunz. The exhibition is scheduled to close on 25 July 2014. Source:
Sep 22 Leif Kristensen dies. Danish-born architect Leif Kristensen (1935-2015) migrated to Australia in 1962 following an interview with Jorn Utzon in Hellebaek. After arriving in Sydney he ended up working as an assistant to Peter Hall in the NSW Government Architects’ Branch. where his most notable project as design architect was Marsden Retarded Children's Centre, Parramatta. In 1969 it won the RAIA NSW Chapter Sir John Sulman​ Medal as “an important and significant development in the architect's role in Australia." After setting up private practice in 1970, he focussed on social housing and medical facilities.
In 1986, the Sydney Opera House Trust contracted him for the first of his three accommodation reviews. After more than a decade of operations, a number of shortcomings in the iconic building had become evident. There was inadequate assembly space for performers before entering the Concert Hall stage. The Broadwalk Studio (originally a recording studio) could not be used as a public auditorium. Solutions crystallised​ around Kristensen's​ designs for TheatreWorks​, an interactive theatre, exhibition space and library and new Western Broadwalk foyer. The project, approved by the Greiner government in 1994, was cancelled by the Carr government in 1995.

Instead, Kristensen​ was selected to redevelop the space as a dedicated performance space, incorporating his designs for the new Western Broadwalk foyer and Concert Hall Performers' Assembly Room. When the venue opened in March 1999, it became, in the words of Herald music critic Roger Covell​, "the Opera House's new handsome, intimate Studio". Among his other proposals and projects for the Opera House were a scheme for a permanent underground exhibition space adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens (1989) and improvements to the Playhouse stage and backstage (1989-92). The re-engagement of Jorn​ Utzon​ in 1999 meant that further work on the building, based on some of Kristensen​'s solutions, was once again under the eye of the original architect. [Sydney Morning Herald 22 October 2015]


1606-1956 | 1957-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2005 | 2006-2007 | 2008 | 2009-2010 | 2011-2013 | Top


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