Delivered as a public-private partnership project under the Partnerships Victoria framework in 2009, the Melbourne Convention Centre project facilitated the urban renewal of a former industrial site into an active business tourism and retail precinct known as the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and South Wharf precinct. It included the construction of the Melbourne Convention Centre to adjoin the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, a 396-room hotel, and mixed-use retail and a food-and-beverage precinct.
From 2016, the expansion of the Convention Centre took place, and was opened in 2018. Over the period of its development, the expansion has completely transformed the South Wharf area.
Getting Ready for the Future with Flexible Design
MCEC features a 5,000-seat plenary hall which can be subdivided into three self-contained theatres, in addition to 32 meeting rooms and a grand ballroom. In all the planning, the brief was to create sought a design that evoked the human artistic spirit, reflected the city of Melbourne and set new sustainability standards.
WSP has been involved for more than a decade with this iconic development – from the planning and original design to the recent expansion project. From the beginning, our designs have factored in the need for, and helped to seamlessly facilitate, the precinct’s future expansion.
On the original project completed in 2009, we delivered an integrated service for MCEC and the precinct. This included all building services, as well as structural, sustainability consultancy and architectural lighting. We also provided all engineering services and specialist environmental services, with involvement from the bid phase through to final delivery.
In the Convention Centre’s plenary hall, we used an innovative and low energy underfloor displacement ventilation system, which maximises flexibility while maintaining high levels of indoor comfort. The adjacent pre-function space includes energy-saving air displacement systems, along with significantly greater ventilation rates than industry standards, creating a space with superior indoor comfort conditions.
The project also features incorporated a black water treatment plant, in addition to other environmentally sustainable attributes. These include the largest use of Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber in Australia, solar panels for hot water provision and building sensors that detect natural light and adjust lighting levels to conserve energy.
The Art of Forward Planning
For the most recent expansion, the provisions our team built into the original designs have enabled the extension to occur with minimal disruption to the precinct’s tenants and visitors. The $205 million expansion included an additional 20,000 m2 of new space added to the original project, increasing its total footprint to 70,000 m2.
The expansion also introduced a central hub, which linked the existing convention centre with the new exhibition space and other areas. The new space comprises of:
- 9,000 m2 flexible, multi-purpose exhibition space with a retractable 1,000-seat theatre
- Multiple meeting rooms
- 450-guest banquet room, café and bar
The expansion is part of a larger South Wharf expansion project by Plenary Group and other private sector partners. This $150 million project included a 347-room hotel and 1,150-space car park, all fully integrated with the existing buildings.
For the MCEC expansion, as well as the new hotel and multi-tier car park, our team provided services, which included mechanical, electrical and HVAC, fire engineering, security consulting, structures, civil engineering, communications and architectural lightning design.
Multi-Award Winning Project
MCEC was the first convention centre to receive a 6 Star ‘World Leadership’ Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. It has also won many architectural, property and sustainability awards, such as a Banksia Environmental Award for the Built Environment.
When he opened the most recent expansion in July 2018, the Minister for Tourism and Major Events, the Hon. John Eren MP said the redevelopment will “not only boost tourism, it will also create more than 900 new jobs and provide a massive boost to our local economy each year.”
Peter King, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Chief Executive, said, “We have delivered a world-class facility that is functional, adaptable and aesthetically pleasing with a quality and a sophistication that reflects the attributes of Melbourne.”