ICC Sydney unlocks Darling Harbour and showcases Sydney to the world

Spread over 250,000 square metres in the heart of Sydney, ICC Sydney at Darling Harbour is a new global benchmark in exhibition and convention venues and an important city-shaping project set to transform Sydney.


Joint venture partners HASSELL + Populous worked together to design the new convention, exhibition and entertainment venues for Sydney, with inspiration from the site’s spectacular city and harbour surrounds as well as Cockle Bay’s history.


HASSELL Fellow and Project Design Director, Ken Maher, believes the project’s significance extends beyond the Darling Harbour site. He said:

I think architecture has a role, if not a responsibility, particularly in a project of this size, to think beyond the project itself to bring a whole new dynamic quality and reputation to the broader city, and that’s what this project will do, perhaps more than any other project in the last generation.


When Darling Harbour was originally conceived it was very inward looking; this project not only renews the Darling Harbour site but provides important new connections, from Central to the harbour, and from the CBD to the neighbouring suburbs of Pyrmont and Ultimo.


With particular expertise in the design of convention and exhibition centres, Populous Senior Principal and Joint Architecture Director Richard Breslin said the team was inspired by the natural beauty of the Sydney context to challenge traditional design for convention and exhibition buildings and capitalise on ICC Sydney’s unique setting. He commented:

Sydney was very much our driver: the natural beauty, the built beauty, but also the people and culture of Sydney.


Convention and exhibition buildings have a tendency to be introverted by their very nature, but we worked to ensure that the line between the outside and the inside was blurred – so visitors coming to any of the venues could engage with the natural and built beauty of this city.


The NSW Government’s goal was to have the best convention and exhibition centre in the world and they’ve certainly got it.




HASSELL Principal and Joint Architecture Director, Glenn Scott, explained how the precinct was designed as a whole – not three individual buildings – to achieve the overall vision of a connected public place for all of Sydney to enjoy that also reflects and celebrates aspects of Sydney in its design. He said:

While the design creates a cohesive whole, there was a conscious decision to design three distinctive buildings, each with their own character and identity, informed by their use and their context in the landscape: the boldness and robustness of the ICC Theatre, close to Chinatown and the city’s nightlife; the warm, earthy tones of the ICC Exhibition set in the parklands; and the reflective, crystalline ICC Convention on the harbour’s edge. In return each building connects with its immediate context physically and visually, taking in the differing views, to ensure that it is not only an internal experience but one that embraces the uniqueness of its Sydney environment.


ICC Sydney precinct includes:

  • A convention facility capable of holding three separate concurrent events of up to 2,500 delegates
  • Total exhibition capacity of 35,000 square metres
  • A flexible entertainment theatre with a seated capacity of 8,000
  • An external event deck of 5,000 square metres featuring spectacular city views
  • A grand ballroom with banqueting space for up to 2,000 or 3,500 in cocktail mode
  • 8,000 square metres of total meeting room space across 70 rooms


HASSELL + Populous are joint venture design consultants to the Darling Harbour Live consortium, comprising LendLease, HOSTPLUS, First State Super, Capella Capital, AEG Ogden and Spotless, which is partnering with the NSW Government to create Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and events destination, ICC Sydney.


Image courtesy: ICC Sydney


NSW Premier, Mike Baird, unveiled a commemorative plaque to officially open ICC Sydney, and said the venue and its team will revolutionise the city’s business and entertainment offering for visitors and locals alike. He added:

ICC Sydney sits at the heart of the AU$3.4bn reinvigorated domain and has been delivered both on time and on budget. It is a magnificent accomplishment for the State and will play a significant role in boosting the local economy, generating at least $5 billion in economic benefit for New South Wales over the next 25 years.


By its third year of operation, ICC Sydney will hold over 1,000 spectacular events annually and attract countless visitors to our shores for a year-round calendar of activity. Sydney is truly set to boom.


CEO of ICC Sydney, Geoff Donaghy, said the venue will become a centre of innovation, underpinning Sydney as one of the world’s most desirable destinations on the international stage. He added:

We know that ICC Sydney will fundamentally change the way events are experienced in Sydney, and are committed to ensuring that each one is a show to remember. Our exceptional facilities and world-class team will deliver a new benchmark for the industry. And in testament to our outstanding offering, we have already secured almost 500 bookings, with hundreds more in the pipeline.


Images courtesy: HASSELL + Populous


For further information, visit: http://populous.com/iccsydney/



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