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ABC Radio Complex

All the ABC’s radio facilities in Sydney were brought together in this 9 level complex, which also provided a rehearsal base for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. There are 100 different acoustic spaces within the complex.

The Complex brings together the various radio facilities of the ABC previously located in ten different locations around Sydney and provides a new base for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO).

Scope

Involved from the conceptual design stage, Leighton Contractors was successful in winning the project management contract from a field of 32 registrants. Located in Harris Street, the 9 level building at the time of opening was believed to be the fifth largest building in Sydney by floor area.

The development was deliberately designed to give the appearance of individual buildings each with distinctive shapes and finishes. The most dramatic aspect is an atrium extending the full height of the building at the street frontage, which interacts with office space, studios and performance areas on its three other sides.

Within the complex there are nearly 100 acoustic spaces varying in size from the 320 seat Eugene Gossens Rehearsal Hall, used mainly by the SSO, to major transmission studios and edit booths. A major component is an acoustically spearate 5 level building housing music and drama prduction studios.

Other facilities include a licensed restaurant, a 40 place childcare centre and a theatrette for the social club.

Special features

The most technically challenging aspect was satisfying the exacting acoustic performance requirements for the rehearsal, production and transmission areas, particularly with a railway line passing beside the building.

The building has three distinct types of radio transmission studios and editing areas, has dry wall partitiions with up to 6 separate layers of sheeting plus various insulation materials, all sealed with minute attention to detail.

The second, for medium sized performance and drama studios, uses the “room within a room” principle, constructed with rendered blockwork on cast concrete soffits.

The third acoustic space is the 320 seat Rehearsal Hall. Here the structure is a concrete box on rubber bearings, within another concrete box, to eliminate transmission of vibration. To save construction time precast concrete was used for both walls and roofs of the inner and outer boxes.

Other successful aspects of the project were very sound cost management with expenditure remaining within the budget set in 1987, and progressive handover as programmed for the ABC to undertake its own technical fitout and occupation.