Arts Centre Melbourne is Australia’s largest arts centre and provides enormous economic and social value to Victoria, staging more than 4,000 performances and public events each year. The 35-year-old centre is facing a number of challenges, including: the need for more-modern safety and security measures; and a need to keep-up with modern audience expectations.

Arts Centre Melbourne required a project management team that could support them in reimagining what an arts centre could be and how it could connect to the city and community. It required a master plan that could introduce greater flexibility into the centre to attract a new and more-diverse audience, as well as provide enhanced amenities to continue to attract global performances.

Since 2015, AECOM has led the delivery of the final masterplan and business case that puts forth a strategy to address critical issues; it also aims to inject new life into Southbank by better connecting the Arts Precinct with the Southbank community.

AECOM worked collaboratively, in a project management role, with Arts Centre Melbourne to assemble a team to develop this first phase of the project. This included the development of the:

  • Procurement plan (in alignment with the Department of Treasury’s requirements for high-risk projects)
  • Staging plan (how the redevelopment could be delivered while keeping the theatres open)
  • Risk-management plan.

The business case was submitted to the Victorian Government in January 2017. The goal for the project was to secure funding to complete further critical asset works and design stages. This goal was achieved when the Government awarded Arts Centre Melbourne $40 million to undertake critical upgrade works for the three priority areas:

  • State theatre fly system
  • Non-compliant safety systems, including hand rails, fire system, and emergency exits
  • Security access between public and private spaces, including the loading dock.This project was able to successfully draw upon previous master plans completed for Arts Centre Melbourne, making note of key lessons and also providing flexibility for new opportunities. The focus was on highlighting the most critical issues and the best strategy to link the city to Arts Centre Melbourne and showcase what Arts Centre Melbourne does best.

The business case also provided support for continuation of the design.