National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery, ACT

Adjacent to Lake Burley Griffin, this $80 million project houses Australia's growing collection of portrait art. The internal facilities include a café, shop, function room, theatrette, education area and car parking.

A unique element of the building, and critical to the perception of the finished gallery, was the extensive use of Class 1 concrete. John Holland gave this material significant attention by engaging the pre-eminent concrete subcontractors in Canberra and virtually reinventing the process of creating class 1 in situ concrete.

Allowing the gallery to harmonise with the surrounding buildings whilst reflecting the building’s inherent purpose, are the following construction features: the symmetry and attention to stringent set out; the overt simplicity of detailing with no trims; innovative use of the Aramax roofing material; the thermal brake window systems; lighting to enhance the sophistication of the gallery. Environmentally sustainable design was a key priority for the National Portrait Gallery, but it had to be balanced with the conflicting environmental demands of displaying artwork, a safe and comfortable atmosphere for visitors and staff, as well as the demands associated with preservation, conservation and storage of artwork.