ABC Sydney Accommodation Project

This projectwas alongside and integrates with the ABC’s Radio Complex, a building constructed by Leighton Contractors 10 years prior to construction of this project.

Scope

The new building provided state-of-the-art rehearsal and digital production facilities for ABC television. The combined centre, now the Sydney Headquarters for the ABC, was believed to be the biggest, most sophisticated and integrated media centre in the southern hemisphere.

A 22 storey building near Sydney’s CBD, the ABC Headquarters consists of 42,000m2 of gross building area dedicated mainly to digital television and live broadcasting. It is a national transmission and distribution centre for television, radio and online media.

New facilities included two large TV Production Studios; two News and Current Affairs Studios; three Rehearsal Studios, numerous control, production and edit rooms; office space for administrative staff and underground parking for 250 vehicles.
The Project included integrating the new building with the ABC’s Radio and Online Media Complex, a 9 storey building constructed 10 years earlier on the site adjacent, and the refurbishment of the older building. The complex operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Challenges and innovation

The impetus for the Project was the ABC’s desire to relocate its television operations from 24 separate buildings at Gore Hill and meld these operations with its radio and online operations to satisfy its corporate policy of One ABC.

This presented the challenges of defining in detail the functions and technical requirements of ABC work groups, the interrelationship between groups and the best way to integrate group activities to satisfy the ABC’s objective of a totally integrated organisation. These issues were successfully addressed as design and construction proceeded apace.

The outcome was a new building and a refurbished building fully integrated via a dramatic 8 storey atrium. Best practice engineering has been used to provide central power and air conditioning systems that service the whole complex with a high level of reliability. Achieving these outcomes without disrupting the 24/7 radio operations required expertise and dedication from the design and construct team, and the support and expert advice of ABC management and staff.

Other major challenges included meeting best practice criteria with the large television studios in acoustics, air conditioning and electrical services. Acoustic isolation was achieved by constructing a box within a box with floors, walls and overhead fly structures supported on acoustic bearings. The airconditioning systems have capacities to cool lighting loads of up to 1200 watts/m2 locally and an average load of 750 watts/m2, whilst at all times meeting the NR20 acoustic requirement. Local power reticulation of nearly 4 kW/m2 was provided for lighting and hoisting. In the case of the largest studio, Studio 22, construction occurred progressively over a live substation, which required very detailed engineering to ensure safe execution.

Other notable features include a fire engineered solution using raked exposed steel members to support cantilevered floors of the office tower, hanging chain dampers with the new building spire to resist wind initiated oscillation, and an innovative geotechnical solution to ensure dewatering of basement excavation.