Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island
Today I visited the new facility at Glebe Island, temporarily replacing the soon-to-be-demolished permanent structure at Darling Harbour. This will prove to be a good, serviceable exhibition space – but don’t expect all the speccy setup and conditions of a modern exhibition centre. Well, that’s not what it is. I suspect that atmosphere will be awol. Two of the main halls are in fact structures that were used for the media centre at the London Olympics, transported and erected amazingly rapidly.
Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island currently comprises 4 halls, 3 of which are able to be used more or less immediately. A fourth is partly fitted but would be used and made fully operational, eg aircon, on the basis of a firm booking. A fifth hall is in fact an area partly built that is fully built up again on the basis of a firm booking. For example, the opening exhibition in February 2014, the Gift Fair, will occupy all five halls as will the boat Show later in the year.
The exhibition areas are set up on a 9x9m grid. Space dividers and signage frames are fairly standard. Agility has the contract for area management although exhibitors are able to bring in their own space designers/constructors.
The managers are being conservative in their use of the facility, initially. At this stage, for 2014, only one exhibit/event will be booked across the venue at any one time. Noise transmission from one area to another would be a problem since at most the dividers are the equivalent of a sheet of canvass. The venue will book conferences, primarily workable in plenary session format as well as dinners. All catering is contracted through the Dockside group.
While the operations schedules and templates for much of management of the new facility has been taken across from Darling Harbour, the Glebe Island facility has some restrictions on use that were not an issue at Darling Harbour – eg: height of displays is limited to 5m, forklift truck usage during bump-in is limited, ambient lighting is as it comes (“any colour as long as its black”) with daylight visible through the membrane roofing.
Access for visitors, the public will be via bus or ferry shuttles, provided free from Eddy Avenue, Central railway, and Darling Harbour Convention Centre embarkation, respectively. I’d hope the ferry shuttle may be extended to Circular Quay. Taxis will be able to enter and a departure pick up point is provided. Exhibitors will have access to an adjacent parking area during bump-in and the exhibition, at $15 – only 500 spaces so be quick. The facility is likely to operate for up to 4 years – and who knows what ‘after-life’ will be sought.