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Adelaide builds for the future

The new East Building added to Adelaide Convention Centre has helped bring many benefits to the wider community as well as transform the city’s skyline. Angela Antrobus reports

Expansion reaps rewards

There were high hopes for the city when the latest expansion to Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) was opened in August 2017. So far the enlarged centre has lived up to expectations, not least of them helping to inject millions of extra dollars into the state of South Australia‘s economy.

ACC was Australia’s first purpose-built convention centre when it opened in 1987, leading the way for the international convention centres developed in all the other states. In 2015, the West Building was added to the Central Building and now the new East Building has increased the centre’s footprint to 20,000 sqm. All three are on the banks of the river Torrens and linked together by an elevated walkway and they can all operate independently or as one venue.

The centrepiece of the East Building is the main Plenary Hall which can be arranged into more than 15 different configurations. It has tiered hinged seating for 3,500 people or offers 3,000 sqm of flat floor space for exhibitions or banquets. It has operable walls which can be put in place to subdivide the space or retracted to open up the plenary to full capacity. And its two revolving auditoria which seat 320 each can be used as part of the plenary or rotated 180 degrees to form two individual theatrettes.

The centre is at the heart of Adelaide’s Riverbank Precinct currently undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment and where the city’s cultural, sporting, education, medical, conference and entertainment zones merge. It’s adjacent to the southern hemisphere’s largest BioMed city – hence a focus on bidding for and attracting health sciences events – and has formed strong alliances with precinct partners, facilitating connections with local thought leaders, academics and innovative industry and research bodies to enrich the conference experience within the centre and leave a lasting legacy.

Now a new legacy has been created in the city thanks to an event held in the expanded convention centre. The 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) took over the entire centre in September, 2017, bringing together 4,470 delegates, 700 students, 300 volunteers and several thousand members of the public. The decision had already been made to create a National Space Agency and the success of the IAC resulted in Adelaide being selected as home of the agency’s permanent headquarters.

The announcement was the pinnacle of a series of legacies left by the event. The agency will be housed, along with similarly aligned businesses, innovators and organisations, in the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, now known as Lot 14 Innovation Hub, at the east end of the central business district. It’s within walking distance or a free tram ride to the ACC and BioMed City, including the new hospital.

In the year following the opening of the East Building, the ACC has seen an approximate 20 per cent increase in the number of events hosted. “The redevelopment has ensured South Australia’s continued competitiveness in the global business events industry by providing us with the capacity to host more prestigious, large-scale events,” says Simon Burgess, GM, Adelaide Convention Centre.