The Memorial was designed and built in the 1920s and 1930s to commemorate those who served in the First World War. By the time it opened on Armistice Day 1941, the world was in the midst of the Second World War. It, too, needed to be remembered.
In 1952, during the Korean War, the Memorial’s commemorative purpose was expanded to cover all wars in which Australia had been – or would be – involved.
The original Memorial building was extended in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Unknown Australian Soldier was interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993. The Sculpture Garden opened in 1998, Anzac Hall opened in 2001, and other major museum upgrades and developments occurred in the late 1990s and 2000s.
The current Anzac Hall was opened in 2001. Built according to the needs of the time and with the resources available, it wasn’t designed to be modified to provide additional floor space, nor were the global events of the last 30 years envisaged.
Over time, it has become clear that more space is needed to recognise contemporary service and to accommodate the Memorial’s growing collection, through which these stories can be told.
The design by Cox Architecture – which proposes a new Anzac Hall and Glazed Link – was chosen as the most viable, least complex, and best value-for-money solution to meet the Memorial’s needs for the next 50 years, and to allow for expansion, if needed, in the future. The proposed design will strengthen and improve connections between the main building and new Anzac Hall galleries, improve the visitor experience and circulation, and create an additional 4,000 square metres of exhibition space, while preserving the heritage of the Memorial’s main building.
The Memorial respects the Public Architecture Prize, awarded to Denton Corker Marshall Pty Ltd for its design of the current Anzac Hall, and understands the prize’s importance to its recipients and other members of the Australian Institute of Architects.
While the existing building has been a valuable part of the Memorial over the past 20 years, the intrinsic value of Anzac Hall is its capacity to tell stories. Replacing Anzac Hall increases the space available to honour Australian servicemen and servicewomen involved in modern conflicts and operations, which is the best outcome for the Memorial’s future.