Delays to the fit out of Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay mean the Australian Chamber Orchestra will be forced to find a temporary home in 2020, The Australian’s Matthew Westwood has reported. The orchestra was to have moved into new studios, part of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct rejuvenation by the NSW Government, next year. While the Pier 2/3 fit out was to begin this year with construction completed in 2020, a delay due to cost pressures (requiring further design work and consultation) will mean the ACO is forced to find temporary headquarters in the interim.

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Walsh BayArtist impression of the Australian Chamber Orchestra auditorium. Photo © Infrastructure NSW

“The ACO’s lease at their current Circular Quay premises expires at the end of 2019 and cannot be renewed,” a spokesperson for the ACO told Limelight. “The ACO is working with the NSW Government to identify a temporary office and rehearsal space in the interim period before the organisation moves into the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.”

The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct project, which Infrastructure NSW is overseeing delivery of on behalf of Create NSW – and which also includes the refurbishment of Pier 4/5, housing Sydney Theatre Company and other organisations – is funded by the NSW Government to the tune of $245 million, with the arts companies themselves also making contributions. Infrastructure NSW signed a contract with Richard Crookes Constructions to complete the work.

According to The Australian, the delay to construction on Pier 2/3 is because “cost pressures have required further design work and consultation before building can begin.” Infrastructure NSW’s February project update lists Stage 1 works, including “investigation works at Pier 2/3 to aid construction”, as continuing through to April 2019 – after the state election on March 23 – while fit out work on Pier 2/3 is no longer listed as part of Stage 2 in the update.

“Additional design work for facilities in Pier 2/3 is currently being undertaken,” a spokesperson for Infrastructure NSW told Limelight. “This will be considered by Government in the second quarter of 2019. A construction timeline will be confirmed after a decision is made by Government. “

Until construction is finished, the ACO will remain without a permanent home. “Create NSW and the Australian Chamber Orchestra signed an agreement in 2018 to confirm that if alternative temporary premises are needed during the redevelopment process, Create NSW would support the organisation to find a new location and cover any increase in rent required,” a spokesperson for Create NSW told Limelight. “We continue to work closely with all existing and incoming tenants throughout this process.”

Pier 2/3 is set to house brand new, purpose-built facilities for the ACO, which will include a 250-seat auditorium. “The ACO is greatly looking forward to moving into the world-class Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, along with other resident companies including Bell Shakespeare, Australian Theatre for Young People, Sydney Theatre Company, Bangarra, Sydney Dance Company, Gondwana Choirs, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and The Song Company,” a spokesperson for the ACO said.