Concourse towers over rest

The Concourse at Chatswood, site of the Willoughby Symphony’s new Concert Hall, has won the 2011 Outstanding Construction Award at the Master Builders Association Excellence in Construction Awards. The winner of this year's top prize combined glass, steel and timber to create a concert hall that rivals the iconic Opera House.

Completed in July, it is already regarded as an iconic building in North Sydney and as a result this three-year-long project constructed by AW Edwards won the 2011 Outstanding Construction Award at the Master Builders Association Excellence in Construction Awards. "This enormous building is world class in execution and quality," says Pugh, a judge of this year's awards. "I thought it was comparable to the Sydney Opera House in its attention to detail."

The Concourse combines Willoughby City Council's Civic Pavilion, a 1000-seat concert hall, 500-seat theatre, a new library, retail areas and cafes, as well as an underground car park for 400 cars. Pugh was really taken with the concert hall itself. "When we visited the concert hall, Nicholas Milton was playing on the piano and as we moved all around the hall to every corner we could hear the pianist clearly," he says. "The sound was exceptional. AW Edwards worked with an acoustic consultant, using special 3D software to resolve design issues and co-ordinate the detailed joinery of lining and associated acoustics of the theatre and hall.

To help in the handling of materials, the workers used three Favco cranes and a concrete tower pump with a 36-metre boom to pour the concrete. This helped AW Edwards win the Innovation - Construction Technique/Equipment Open Category Award. Held by the Master Builders Association, the NSW Excellence in Construction Awards are considered the industry's most prestigious construction honours.

Nominations are received from most large construction companies across the state. The awards were presented in front of about 950 of the industry's major contractors, sub-contractors, developers and material suppliers at a gala dinner in Sydney last week. AW Edwards also won the awards for Public Buildings $25 million and over and Best Use of Steel on The Concourse project. After accepting the tender, the company redesigned the sweeping structural-steel facade in consultation with the architects and engineers. "The construction company ended up saving the client money - which is quite rare in this industry - and the redesign also worked better for the project as a whole," Pugh says. Wood was also used extensively in the project's internal linings. American rock maple veneer was mostly used because of its high density and consistent colour. The concert hall had a blackbutt timber floor, while timber veneer panelling (both curved and flat) was used in the foyer. Almost 800 sheets of A-grade hoop pine plywood were used over the structural-steel frame of the entry facade. All this intricate detail and finish added to the building's overall beauty, Pugh says.
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