The Concourse at Chatswood is a cultural centre in the North Shore suburb of Sydney, which is a 20-minute journey from the Central Business District. In 2007 the City of Willoughby commissioned new designs to replace the old Chatswood Civic Centre at a cost of $115 million. By 2012 the total project cost had reportedly blown out to $300 million. however, the actual construction cost was approximately $162 million  to $171 million.
The first Willoughby Town Hall was built on the site in 1903. The hall doubled as the Council Chambers and the site was shared with the Council Pound, the School of Arts and the Ku-ring-gai Masonic Lodge. A three story administration building was also built on the site in 1967 (with a fourth floor added in 1980).
In 1972, the original Town Hall was demolished and replaced by a new Civic Centre, comprising the Town Hall which seated 850 people, and the smaller Bailey Hall, which seated 350. This building played an essential part in Willoughby City’s community and culture for many years.
The new cultural complex was designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects. Following demolition of the old buildings, construction began on The Concourse in July 2008 at a cost of approximately $162 million and was complete in July 2011. The complex was officially opened on 17 September 2011 by the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir.
In addition to a 5,000m2 library, The Concourse at Chatswood features a large public open space, a 500-seat theatre, rehearsal spaces, a 1,000-seat concert hall, cafés, retail and commercial outlets, a boutique hotel and a multi-purpose exhibition hall. The Concourse also includes car parking over two entire basement levels and a 5,000m3 storm water detention tank as part of an integrated water management system.
For the Chatswood Library, where reading light for eyes of all ages was a central issue, lighting specialists Klik Systems were enlisted to design & construct energy-efficient beam luminaires. Klik Systems also contributed lighting to the new Canberra Airport and to the interactive digital art façade called Luminous at Darling Quarter Sydney. The Chatswood library occupies 5,000m2 on the lower ground level, entered via the main podium.
Patrons of The Concourse include leading figures in Australia’s arts industries including soprano Yvonne Kenny, poet Les Murray, authors Matthew Reilly and Renée Goossens and rock icon Angry Anderson AM.
Reilly, author of the best selling thriller Ice Station said. "For any writer, it all starts at your local library. Chatswood Library on The Concourse offers the next generation of Willoughby-born writers an opportunity to work in a marvellous state-of-the-art facility – right on their own door step."
T.S. Eliot award winning poet Les Murray said "As a supporter and user of the Willoughby Library, I am greatly impressed by the increased size of the new library…private study rooms, meeting rooms, state-of-the-art IT facilities and lovely sunny and shaded spaces for quiet reading… the new library will be a great match for the many enthusiastic visitors it receives."
The library was complete and open in readiness for the National Year of Reading 2012 in Australia.
Time Out Berkshire Review Opera Insider
- The Concourse
- Gov NSW
- Willoughby Council
- Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) – architects of the project
- Matthew Reilly
- Klik Systems
- Sydney Festival
- A List Guide - Venues
- AW Edwards - Projects
- Live Guide
- Libraries of Sydney Blog