Ian Potter Southbank Centre: breaking ground on the new Melbourne Conservatorium

Speeches, spades, brass and bonhomie herald the construction of a world-class home for musicians.

By Sophie Duran

On 2 August, the Faculty of VCA & MCM hosted a Turning of the Sod Ceremony for the new, $104.5 million Ian Potter Southbank Centre. Conceived by award-winning John Wardle Architects, and funded by the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, the Ian Potter Foundation and generous philanthropic support, the building will offer state-of-the-art teaching facilities on the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus, placing Melbourne Conservatorium students in the heart of the Melbourne Arts Precinct and giving them unprecedented access to a wealth of artistic and creative endeavours.

Dean of the Faculty of VCA & MCM Professor Barry Conyngham was joined on the day by University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis, Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley and Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle for an event that included speeches, a brass ensemble fanfare and a symbolic breaking of the earth.

MCM brass students, l–r, Hannah Rundell, Natalia Edwards, Kiran Samuel, Jessica Gregory, Adrian Meyer. By Sav Schulman.

Professor Conyngham said: “Not only was it a very proud moment for the few of us permitted on site, but for the Faculty and the University as a whole, the culmination of a terrific amount of work and determination by a great many people. It was also a moment to reflect on the fact that this project, which will deliver a world-class conservatorium experience for our students and staff, has been made possible with the help of significant, and much-appreciated, philanthropic, University and government support.

“But this is just the beginning,” Professor Conyngham added. “If we stay on schedule, the Ian Potter Southbank Centre will be open for business in time for the 2019 academic year, providing a state-of-the-art base for our main business: training and educating the music and arts professionals of the future.”

Artist’s impression of the Ian Potter Southbank Centre. Image courtesy of John Wardle Architects.

Minister Foley said the Victorian Government was proud to partner with the University – and with its philanthropic supporters – to make the project happen.

“The new Melbourne Conservatorium will be a transformative link in our arts precinct that will boost our cultural and educational offering and attract the best and brightest talent to our creative state,” he said. “It will further help build Southbank’s Sturt street as the cultural hub of Melbourne.”

The Ian Potter Southbank Centre forms part of the ongoing revitalisation of the Faculty of VCA & MCM’s Southbank campus, including the $42 million redevelopment of the Dodds Street Stables into a visual arts wing, and the introduction of the Buxton Contemporary Museum.


Banner image: Turning of the Sod Ceremony, l–r, Dean of the Faculty of VCA & MCM Professor Barry Conyngham, University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley. By Sav Schulman