ICC Sydney


  • Services

    Architecture, Interior Design, Master Planning

  • Typologies

    Arenas, Convention and Exhibition Centers

  • Building Activities

    Concerts, Conferences & Expos

  • Location


  • Completion


Spread over 250,000 square metres in the heart of Sydney, ICC Sydney at Darling Harbour is a new global benchmark in exhibition and convention venues and an important city-shaping project transforming its inner city harbour location.

Joint venture partners HASSELL + Populous worked together to design the new convention, exhibition and entertainment venues for Sydney, with inspiration from the site’s spectacular city and harbour surrounds as well as Cockle Bay’s history.

CHALLENGE: ICC Sydney includes three world-class venues which create a cohesive overall precinct, while at the same time giving each building its own personality and unique architectural character – from the cool reflective style of the convention centre, to the warm natural features of the exhibition centre, and the vibrant energy of the theatre.

One of the principle challenges with this building type is their scale as they are traditionally cavernous and voluminous by their very function and nature. This was magnified in this project because its size was significantly increased when compared to the previous venue. In addition, one of its most important features was to provide more public open space than before, a better space with greater amenity for everyone.

  • The interiors for ICC Sydney were designed in such a way that each building could have its own identity, while also seamlessly flowing between each building. The Grand Ballroom embraces the cool reflective theme with a ceiling of sculpted mirror polished blades that reflect and distort what is happening below, referencing the water of Cockle Bay and the Woodward Fountain.

INNOVATION: The precinct reflects the dynamism of Sydney’s cityscape, redefining Darling Harbour, while respecting the precinct’s parkland setting.

The ICC Exhibition creates Australia’s first multi-storey exhibition space and the largest exhibition space in Australia. The Exhibition Centre has 35,000m2 of indoor exhibition space over two levels, equivalent in size to 26 Olympic size pools. In order to stagger the two levels of hall back, and bury the loading dock under landscaped terracing we came up with the counter-intuitive idea of positioning the lower level exhibition hall loading dock on the edge of Tumbalong Park, feeding directly into the halls. This diminished the overall mass of the building, and houses what is a 24 hour a day, noisy operation essentially underground.

The International Convention Centre can accommodate three concurrent conventions and boasts Australia’s largest ballroom with an expansive view of the Sydney skyline across the harbour. While most ballrooms are in the basement, the grand ballroom sits at the top of the building with a stunning 270 degree view of the Sydney skyline across the harbour. It also includes more than 70 meeting rooms, two theatres, a multipurpose event space, a media centre, VIP area and business suite.

The theatre is designed to enrich the live experience. It brings audiences closer to performers by providing unobstructed views of the stage from every seat in the house. The ICC Theatre’s layered mesh facade wraps the entire volume of the auditorium to create a unique and memorable venue, with the vibrant red foyer areas glowing in the evening – signalling the exciting energy of the entertainment industry. Guests experience a world class welcome from the moment they enter the theatre through a 180m2 digital screen.

  • ICC Sydney was awarded LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council, recognising its all-encompassing approach to sustainability.

IMPACT: Six months after opening, ICC Sydney had increased revenue by 22% when compared with the previous venue’s figures for six months. It had booked its 1000th event and sold over 120,000 tickets to live events including Keith Urban, Chris Rock and Fast4 Tennis, all held in the Theatre spaces.

In its second year of operation, delegates attending events at ICC Sydney generated A$820 million in direct expenditure. Victor Dominello, New South Wales Minister for Finance, said “the figures speak for themselves – ICC Sydney is a big win for Sydney, providing visitors with world class events, and boosting the economy and creating jobs”. New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said “ICC Sydney is predicted to inject A$5 Billion into NSW’s economy over the next 25 years”.

As well as its success in attracting the lucrative convention and exhibition dollar to Sydney, the design of ICC Sydney has created stunning new venues which have renewed the harbour front precinct to create a vibrant new inner city quarter for visitors and locals alike.

The design of the ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre has significantly increased the available exhibition space and meeting capacity to provide an asset capable of attracting the best conferences, exhibitions and events in the world. CEO of ICC Sydney, Geoff Donaghy, said “ICC is proud to have welcomed another 1.3+ million visitors across more than 700 successful events in 2018 and simultaneously enhancing the city’s reputation globally and creating opportunities for our talented, local community”. All the spaces can be operated simultaneously with massive back of house infrastructure which makes this possible including a commercial kitchen that serves both Convention and Exhibition buildings.

The theatre also features unique views looking out over the city. The building reconnects visually with the Sydney CBD on all foyer levels, providing Sydney with three new living rooms from which to view the spectacular lights of the CBD.

Three months after opening, ICC Sydney Theatre was listed in the prestigious Pollstar ‘World’s Top 50 Performing Theatres’.

AIA Urban Design for Darling Harbour Precinct Transformation
Australia’s Best Conference Venue for the second year in the QANTAS Business Travel Awards
INCON Global Digital Infrastructure Awards – Technology
Good Design Award
Project Team

Richard Breslin

Joshua Robson

Paul Henry

Belinda Goh

Paul Foskett

Nathan Tobeck

James Pearce

Andrew Crutcher

Ron Van Sluijs

Michael Lockwood

Todd Voth

Christopher Lee

Dale Jennins

Garry Reeves