The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) says the recently released plans to demolish award-winning Anzac Hall by the Australian War Memorial are “deeply distressing”.

While fully supporting moves to honour and better tell the stories of Australia’s servicemen and women, AIA national president Clare Cousins says the Institute was shocked at the lack of consultation with the community, the Institute and the architectural moral right holders of the existing structure.

Designed by architects Denton Corker Marshall and opened in 2001 at a reported cost of $17 million, Anzac Hall has been lauded for its sensitivity to the heritage and cultural context of this national memorial while also providing functional design.

“As architects we are passionate about preserving Australia’s heritage and honouring our national history, nowhere more so than the extraordinary service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women,’ says Cousins.

“Bringing in the bulldozers to destroy such an investment – of effort, of culture and at the end of the day taxpayer dollars – is a colossal waste and mark of disrespect.”

‘It is incomprehensible that in planning what would otherwise be such a welcome extension at the War Memorial, so little regard has been shown for the cultural significance of Anzac Hall, which is a national landmark and much-loved exhibition space.

‘The apparent secrecy surrounding the plans, which were reportedly being explored since 2015, together with the complete lack of consultation is hugely disturbing,” she says.

“At only 17 years of age, Anzac Hall is considered young in building terms, where average lifecycles are 50 to 100 years.”

 “The Institute is resolved to fight these plans. We must put an end to the pattern emerging which treats major public works as somehow disposable,” Cousins added.