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Construction begins for Conrad Gargett’s Queensland Ballet centre redevelopment

The redevelopment and expansion of Queensland Ballet’s Thomas Dixon Centre is officially underway, with the first sod turned at a ceremony on 13 August.

With Conrad Gargett in charge of design, the redevelopment will see more dance studios and dressing rooms built, as well as breakout spaces, bars and function spaces, a fully equipped gym and a “wellness studio.”

In preliminary planning documents, Conrad Gargett described the design of the extension as “utilitarian in language,” with a saw-tooth roof referencing the form of the workshop that it is replacing.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin and Queensland public works Minister Mick de Brenni examine Conrad Gargett's design.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin and Queensland public works Minister Mick de Brenni examine Conrad Gargett’s design.

The extension will be attached to the existing centre with a double-height glazed atrium on space currently used as a car park, with the two buildings connected by an elevated walkway.

The plans also include a new, amphitheatre-shaped performance venue within the existing building, with an open-air terrace on the roof. A “Bunker Bar” will take the place of five World War II-era air raid shelters.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin said at the sod turning ceremony that the project would be invaluable to the company.

“The transformation will allow us to further collaborate with small to medium arts organizations, focus on the wellbeing of our dancers and staff, extend our reach across Queensland and, together with our new academy building at Kelvin Grove, continue our remarkable growth sustainably into the future,” he said.

The existing building is named for Brisbane bootmaker and tanner Thomas Dixon and was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1998. Built in 1908 and designed by prominent Irish-Australian architect Richard Gailey, it was purchased by the Queensland government and refurbished as a dance centre in 1991.

Queensland public works Minister Mick de Brenni said the project was scheduled for completion before Christmas 2020 – in time for Queensland Ballet’s 60th birthday celebrations.

“The centre will set the bar for Queensland’s world-class dancers, who will have a 400-seat theatre to amaze audiences in,” he said.

Hutchinson Builders has been engaged to lead the early works stage of the project.

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