The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney has released the design of the new forecourt outside the main entrance of the historic building, ahead of the commencement of construction works. 

Designed by internationally renowned landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson and Seattle firm GGN in collaboration with Australian landscape architects McGregor Coxall, the new civic space is part of the Sydney Modern Project, representing an important expansion and transformation of one of Australia’s pre-eminent art museums. Gustafson and GGN were announced as part of the Sydney Modern Project's global team in 2020, joining Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, executive architects Architectus and McGregor Coxall.

More than 850 square metres of additional public space will be created in the forecourt by the removal of car parking at the front of the existing building. Designed to significantly expand public use of the space, the forecourt includes two reflection pools with ample seating along the perimeter. New trees will provide additional shade within the enhanced landscape connecting the forecourt to the outdoor art campus, created around and between the existing gallery and the new standalone gallery building designed by SANAA, currently under construction.   

The shallow pools are crafted from highly polished granite and will frame and reflect the neo-classical façade of the art gallery. The original low stone heritage walls in the forecourt will be reconstructed and raised to provide extra seating.

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said the design enhances the architectural heritage of the much-loved gallery building to create a new and more welcoming visitor experience.  

“The Art Gallery’s expanded and transformed campus will provide an exceptional experience of art, architecture and landscape for everyone to enjoy in one of the world’s most beautiful urban locations.  

“Kathryn Gustafson's design for our new civic forecourt will provide visitors to the Art Gallery more space to gather and better connects our magnificent site on Gadigal Country to The Domain, the Royal Botanic Garden and the city ,” Brand said.  

“Public open space is more important than ever as we seek out places of peace, reflection and to celebrate the joy of life,” Gustafson observed. 

“Our goal with the Sydney Modern Project is to create a flexible and welcoming place for all visitors, where they can connect with the natural and cultural environment in this stunning location.” 

The Sydney Modern Project’s construction program is scheduled for completion in late 2022.

Image: Architectural render of the Art Gallery of New South Wales forecourt produced by bloomimages Berlin GmbH © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.