Darling Harbour’s award-winning Exhibition Centre reduced to demolition zone

Going, going: The Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre, which was opened by the Queen in 1988, is pulled down to make way for a billion dollar development. Photo: Edwina PicklesThe elegant beams and soaring white walls of the Sydney Exhibition Centre are being reduced to piles of concrete and twisted steel as its demolition gathers pace this week.

The building, opened with much fanfare by the Queen in 1988, is being unceremoniously pulled apart to make way for Darling Harbour’s billion-dollar redevelopment. The process began with the removal of the internal fittings in December, but only recently extended to external demolition work after hoardings were erected this month.

Developer Lend Lease expects that the entire structure of the exhibition halls will have disappeared by next month.

With it will go some of the architectural legacy of its designer, Philip Cox, who has previously described the Sulman Award-winning building as one of his best works.

Mr Cox has had a ringside seat to what he describes as an ”act of vandalism”; he lives at Darling Harbour and walks past the site every day.

”It’s a very sore point with me. I feel very distressed when I even think about it,” Mr Cox said.

”It’s been widely acclaimed in every corner of the world and yet there has been this wanton destruction of it.”

Acting Premier Andrew Stoner said seven international events, worth almost $50 million to the state’s economy, had already been secured for the new exhibition and convention centres due to open in late 2016.

Mr Stoner said these events, in addition to those already booked into the interim centre at Glebe Island, were a ”vote of confidence” in the government’s plans.

”It shows that there is a lot of faith in Sydney as Australia’s leading business events destination, and that we are living up to our reputation by delivering world-class infrastructure,” he said.

Before the new centres emerge, about 2000 tonnes of steel and 70,000 tonnes of concrete – enough to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools – will be removed from the 20-hectare precinct.

“We are targeting to recycle around 90 per cent of the concrete and steel, and we are well on track to reach that target,” said Richard Eaton, Lend Lease’s construction director for Darling Harbour Live.

Demolition of the nearby convention centre is expected to be completed by May or June.