Andronas Conservation Architecture have been appointed to the State Library restoration project, in collaboration with multi-award winning Australasian design firm Architectus, known for its delivery of complex and technically challenging projects.

The firm, having received more than 100 industry awards for work across education, public, commercial, infrastructure and transport projects, will be releasing the design concepts for the Vision 2020 project later this year.

Arthur Andronas’ acclaimed practice, which is focused on heritage architecture, will join forces with Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, one of Scandinavia’s most recognised architectural practices, to transform the iconic building.

The consortium of internationally-celebrated architects has been selected to design the $83.1 million State Library Victoria Vision redevelopment, due to begin in February 2017 and scheduled for completion in 2020.

“We’re working on the State Library with the Schmidt Hamer Lassen Danish architect firm, acting as heritage consultants,” Arthur Andronas tells Neos Kosmos.

“Our area would be to make sure that the building or the various buildings that form the State Library are treated with care and with minimum impact.”

The Andrews Labor government has contributed $55.4, million to the entire project which in total will see the restoration of the historic Queen’s Hall, the reopening the library’s Russell Street entrance, an e-Town Hall and new spaces for early learning, digital media, entrepreneurship and exhibitions. Queen’s Hall is the first part of the library building, built over a number of stages spanning 160 years, starting from the 1980s.

“There’s a lot of research, a lot of exploration we need to do to be able to determine what we should be tackling first and what has to remain intact,” Mr Andronas explains.

“We’re trying to bring ourselves up to speed, as with heritage buildings we need to make sure we understand the structure before the designers start designing. We need to know in advance what is appropriate and what is not.”

The dome of Victoria’s State Library.

Architectus and Schmidt Hammer Lassen, supported by Andronas Conservation Architects, Irwin Consult and Steensen Varming Engineers, will design all elements of the Vision 2020 redevelopment.

“Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects is a global leader in contemporary library design, with projects including Scandinavia’s largest public library, the Dokk1 Urban Mediaspace, Halifax Central Library, Sir Duncan Rice Library at Aberdeen University and the extension to the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
“The two firms recently collaborated to design the Christchurch New Central Library, which is due for completion in 2018.”

Arthur Andronas, who believes that existing buildings are a precious resource, seeks creative ways to revitalise them for changing use patterns, cultural contexts and economic viability.

“We pride ourselves on our understanding of historic buildings, and the options available for conservation and adaptation,” the heritage architect stresses.

“We’ve just finished working on the basement of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, we’re currently investigating the stone problems at St Patrick’s Cathedral, also in Melbourne, and at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo. At the moment I’m rebuilding the church that was burnt down in Gardenvale St Jones.”

Having specialised in burnt churches, Mr Andronas has already put his hand up for the restoration of the recently gutted Evangelismos church in East Melbourne.

“I have a thing for historic churches and, regardless of whether I’m chosen to take on the project or not, I’m helping the community.
“The Annunciation of Our Lady Church is a very important landmark in the history of the Greek Australian population.”

Arthur Andronas is the director of Andronas Conservation Architecture. Graduating from the RMIT School of Architecture in 1987, he became registered with the Architect’s Registration Board of Victoria in the same year. In 1989, he completed a Masters of Arts (Conservation Studies) at the University of York, UK. Mr Andronas is an associate member of the AIA, Australia International Committee of Monuments and of Sites (ICOMOS) and the Association of Preservation Technology. He has also been the heritage advisor to a number of municipalities and shires.