PM unveils plans for War Memorial’s $500 million expansion

Ian Bushnell 18 November 2019 36
The southern entrance, including the oculus, shop and digital displays

The southern entrance, including the oculus, shop and digital displays. Images: AWM.

Official plans for the controversial nine-year $500 million Australian War Memorial Development Project include a new southern underground entrance, refurbishment of the main building, a new larger Anzac Hall connected to the main building, an extension to the Bean Building and public realm works.

The Memorial has submitted a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, including a Heritage Impact Assessment, to determine if the plans require formal assessment and approval.

The submission will soon be published on the Department of Environment and Energy’s website for public consultation.

The AWM precinct

The AWM precinct.

The Memorial says the expanded institution will be sensitively connected to the existing landscape and the heritage façade remains unchanged.

The southern entrance will also house the Memorial shop and two electronic displays — one displaying Places of Pride and another representing current defence activity.

The connection to the main building will be maintained through a new glazed focal point, the oculus, located at the heart of the new southern entrance.

Designed by Cox Architecture, the new Anzac Hall provides an additional 4,000m² of gallery space with the construction of a new two-storey building to house and display exhibitions, large technology objects and galleries.

Western arrival courtyard

Western arrival courtyard.

The Memorial says the glazed link, also designed by Cox Architecture, will strengthen and improve connectivity between the main building and Anzac Hall and contain non-light-sensitive large technology objects such as aircraft and armoured vehicles, a café/restaurant, and space to support the Memorial’s educational programs.

“We will be extending the C.E.W. Bean Building to the south, aligning with the forecourt in front of Poppy’s Café. This will allow us to consolidate research collections and services, relocate backend operations from the main building, and establish a world-class Research Centre,” it says.

The Memorial is awaiting approval for works to expand the underground car park and build a temporary surface car park, mainly for construction workers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the plans at an event on Monday, saying the project was about ensuring the stories of an entire new generation of service are told and remembered.

Eastern view of new Anzac Hall

Eastern view of new Anzac Hall and the glazed link.

“This is the most significant reinvestment in our War Memorial since it was established after World War I and ultimately completed following the Second World War. I am pleased our Government is making this overdue investment,” he said.

“Recent stories, like the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the peacekeeping missions, all need to be told to a new generation and to the almost 1.1 million people who visit the Memorial each year.

“As well as telling the stories of our veterans, our priority is delivering more than $11 billion each year to support them and their families for their mental and physical wellness now and into the future. This is the memorial to the living that the sacrifice of those who lost all on our behalf demands.”

Director of the Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson, who will soon leave the institution, said it was critical the Memorial has the space to tell the stories of Australia’s servicemen and servicewomen over the past 30 years.

Glazed courtyard, featuring bridge between new Anzac Hall and the main building

Glazed courtyard, featuring bridge between new Anzac Hall and the main building.

Critics have labelled the project as unnecessary and exorbitant, and have taken aim particularly at the tearing down of Anzac Hall, an award-winning building.

The Memorial has established an on-site information gallery where the detailed plans can be viewed, outside Poppy’s Café.

The expanded parade ground and southern entrance

The expanded parade ground and southern entrance.

Early works construction to extend the underground car parking facilities on the eastern side of the precinct have begun. It is expected work on the new Anzac Hall will begin in the second half of 2020, with work on the southern entrance commencing the following year.

Work on the project began in 2018, and it is anticipated it will be completed by 2027.


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36 Responses to PM unveils plans for War Memorial’s $500 million expansion
MERC600 MERC600 12:21 pm 20 Nov 19

Regarding the comments gathered below by the Rioteers.

The War Memorial foundation stone was laid on Anzac Day 1919, however the depression and the Second World War delayed building works, but the Australian War Memorial was opened on the 11 November 1941, the 23rd anniversary of the end of WWI.

And it would be a good bet that letters to the papers of the day would have made similar comments as some of our Rioters. i.e waste of money, better use of taxes . etc , etc .

As far as I know the War Memorial is the most visited site in this here town… and always has been.

David Chadwick David Chadwick 10:28 pm 19 Nov 19

The new grandiose building/monument will a hurbristic, one party, stomping ground, a drum beating, flag waving, belicose act of nationalism and materialism.

What it will no longer be if the changes that are now planned are brought to fruition will be a serene, reflective, place of memorialising of the diggers collective acts of love, mateship and self and ultimate sacrifice it was designed to be.

I do not support this change or the clear and deliberate calculated acts that are redefining the role of the War Memorial placing it front and centre even raising it up beyond where many of the fallen would I believe want it to be. The War Memorial is an important part of who we are, a part of our nation's journey and history. Our history is a journey not a commenration of our militarism nor must we allow it to become a series of false memories or celebration of war.

The soon to be announced new Director will be crucial in defining the role of the War Memorial. I am expecting the redefinition and grandiosity of the Nelson years will continue uner the incoming Director who I feel sure will be chosen especially to push the Nelsonian, Coaltions, increasing nationalism.

astro2 astro2 8:40 pm 19 Nov 19

The half billion dollar extravaganza is not for a Memorial – we already have a Memorial. It’s for a War Theme Park. Just what we need when the country is burning down, let’s play war games kiddies. Fun for all the Family!!!

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:59 am 21 Nov 19

    It compliments the tree plantation theme park just down the road.

petunia petal petunia petal 12:10 pm 19 Nov 19

Completely and utterly unnecessary. Stop glorifying war and better yet stop getting involved in them and creating more victims and veterans. The current memorial is solemn and dignified – stop making it into a Disneyland attraction and remove the hideous corporate sponsors whose very weapons exist to kill maim and murder people. Australia is fast becoming the US with the ‘thank you for your service’ nonsense and patriotic militarism. Wait till you’ve experienced war (yes i have!) and you might realise its a ghastly thing, we must stop glorifying it and look after the veterans with quiet respect and not through tourist attractions.

Margaret Chalker Margaret Chalker 11:04 am 19 Nov 19

Wasteful, unnecessary and disrespectful to many Australians who are struggling to live today.

Andrew Dudley Andrew Dudley 9:45 am 19 Nov 19

Good thing the government made sure every veteran and current service person and their families were taken care of before blowing $500 million on a building...

Jill Brown Jill Brown 8:09 am 19 Nov 19

Disgusting waste of funds. How about actually helping our broken vets?

Toni Brooks Toni Brooks 10:36 pm 18 Nov 19

And yet, can't give funding for the forests to be taken care of, protections for wildlife, helping out farmers in drought stricken areas, but hey I guess a war memorial is more important.

Steven Chaytor Steven Chaytor 10:34 pm 18 Nov 19

A compelling design and an example of what could be extended to other national institutions in time.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 5:07 pm 19 Nov 19

    Steven Chaytor and a filthfully costly one. Not what soldiers died for.

Darron Marks Darron Marks 10:30 pm 18 Nov 19

I can see people point that the money could be used for other things. But the war memorial like it or not is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

So spending money to renovate it into a world class attraction does seem like something worth investing in.

    Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 6:10 am 19 Nov 19

    Darron Marks but isn't this a circular argument? If the War Memorial is the only cultural institution getting massive investments of this size, then how is anything else supposed to compete with it for popularity? The current facility is more than adequate for serving it's purpose as a place to remember those lost in war.

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 8:21 am 19 Nov 19

    Well I think a replica of the Endeavor or a ship from the first fleet located next to the National Museum of Australia might also be a good investment.

    Are these the kinds of alternatives you are considering ?

    Eric Anthony Lucas Eric Anthony Lucas 3:42 pm 19 Nov 19

    Darron Marks it would cost a tiny fraction to build an exhibit somewhere else for large items, and that would actually increase the tourist potential. I don’t hear any complaints about the wonderful Anzac Hall, but they plan to bulldoze that!

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 4:44 pm 19 Nov 19

    The War Memorial has a very large storage facility in Mitchell they open for a day each year.

    That is when I discovered they have an amazing collection that could easily fill another building. They have a huge collection of cannons, tanks you name it.

    https://www.awm.gov.au/visit/events/BigThings

    Personally I think they could connect a museum to the War Memorial maybe even make that a section that guest can pay to visit as an extra add on to the memorial.

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 5:26 pm 19 Nov 19

    Darron Marks yes/no it’s for the dead. How about we look after the ones that are alive... and the vulnerable or funds for the hard workers that actually do something useful for the general public like firefighters...

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 7:34 pm 19 Nov 19

    Sometimes you have to build things in order to get people to visit and spend money in the capital. It is not that veterans and firefighters are not as important. If we thought this way nothing would ever get build.

    Why do we build big bananas or prawns or dogs on tucker boxes ?

    It depends on how you value national landmarks I guess. Because I am sure at some stage people would have viewed them as a complete waste of money.

Kagiso Ratlhagane - Australian Progressives Kagiso Ratlhagane - Australian Progressives 10:12 pm 18 Nov 19

If they don’t add some more Indigenous war history it’s gonna be a waste of money!

    Eric Anthony Lucas Eric Anthony Lucas 3:39 pm 19 Nov 19

    Kagiso Ratlhagane - Australian Progressives it’s a huge waste of money either way!

Darrell S Morrison Darrell S Morrison 9:30 pm 18 Nov 19

While struggling service personnel and their families grovel to DHS et al for survival.

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:26 pm 18 Nov 19

With the lack of money for anyone but politicians..... I’m not sure if it’s really needed? Is it?

Jay Annabel Jay Annabel 8:24 pm 18 Nov 19

i suspect the right won't be happy until this building is a palace

Jessica Kirsopp Jessica Kirsopp 7:58 pm 18 Nov 19

So I'm guessing they will get rid of all the colonial galleries??

Daniel J. Fitzpatrick Daniel J. Fitzpatrick 7:56 pm 18 Nov 19

The whole light rail stage one isn’t a great deal more money than this (in relative terms) I bet we won’t see the vitriol of anti campaigning from those that oppose this by comparison to those who opposed the light rail. I am not anti war or pro war, but there are many institutions in and around Canberra that could split this sum of money into tiny pieces and do more with it!

    Edgar Sharp Edgar Sharp 9:13 pm 18 Nov 19

    War memorial is federal money

    Robert Knight Robert Knight 9:20 pm 18 Nov 19

    Edgar Sharp true, but it isn’t crazy to ask the federal government to pump some money into urban public transport. However, in this case Daniel was pointing out that other federally funded institutions could have used just a fraction of this kind of money to great effect.

    Daniel J. Fitzpatrick Daniel J. Fitzpatrick 9:24 pm 18 Nov 19

    Edgar Sharp no doubt, but my point is centred around the sum of money as a total, not from where it is sourced, and as such how far each dollar goes. (Also a dollar is a dollar is a dollar, be it federal it still adds up to 100 cents for each dollar, because its federal it should not mean it is discounted)

    Stephen Kolano Stephen Kolano 11:01 pm 18 Nov 19

    Daniel J. Fitzpatrick I'm sure there are 500 schools struggling to provide enducation to our children that could use the money well. But I guess educated youth might question the status quo...

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 6:45 am 19 Nov 19

    Daniel J. Fitzpatrick my rates didn’t triple to pay for this...but at the same time seeing Canberra booming with infrastructure and development is also a good thing. The AWM brings millions to the ACT economy in tourism.

    Daniel J. Fitzpatrick Daniel J. Fitzpatrick 7:22 am 19 Nov 19

    Jim Hosie show me actual evidence of rates tripling! Also your rates didn’t go up to pay for light rail either as it seems you are making that inference! Rates are increased in place of keeping stamp duty based on many experts review of the collection of taxes. A government asked for a review then actually listened and implemented the recommendations. Using rates as a means of tax collection ensures a stable base of reliable income, something relying on housing sales simply can’t offer. If you truly are a fan of infrastructure spending, this move will delight you as it offers more scope and a more secure revenue stream for future investment.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 7:35 am 19 Nov 19

    Daniel J. Fitzpatrick haha you must work for the Barr Government if you think rates have not increased as described. It’s fair comment felt by many in the electorate so if you want to pas that back to your political masters please. No assets left so fines, rates, land tax, (did I mention ridiculous littering fines) and administration costs. Did I miss anything? And before you jump around I vote independent so I’m not bent to a political master...merely observation. And let’s face it GEOCON and others are doing more for developing Canberra than anyone else. Look at the development applications kicking around for Civic and Manuka...

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 5:09 pm 19 Nov 19

    Stephen Kolano educated people frighten this government

    Tom Munro Tom Munro 5:12 pm 19 Nov 19

    In fact your rates didn’t triple at all

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:45 am 21 Nov 19

    Jim Hosie they didn’t triple to pay for light rail either!

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