New SAM rises over the the lake

By John Lewis

Construction of the new Shepparton Art Museum is forging ahead, with up to 50 building workers at the Victoria Park Lake site every day.

Kane Constructions project manager Brandon Finucane said despite recent wet weather and wind the build is on target for completion by October or November next year after site work commenced in April.

Mr Finucane said a milestone was reached last Friday when 400cc of concrete was poured and 60 tonnes of steel put in place for the loading dock and main ground slab.

Mr Finucane said 52 per cent of current site workers have been sourced locally, with skilled people from Cobram, Numurkah, Tatura, Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley area.

He said while on-site workers are currently all male, female workers will be seen at the site in the coming months, as electricians, plumbers and administrative staff arrive.

Mr Finucane said local suppliers of concrete, drainage pipes, and plumbing and electrical infrastructure will also be used.

Vertical work is now under way on the first internal wall in preparation for the second of five levels to be built for the $47.4 million building, which was designed by Melbourne architects Denton Corker Marshall. 

Mr Finucane said a tower crane will not be necessary, as there is enough on-site space for mobile cranes.

A unique feature of the project includes a separate "art hill" to the north of the main building comprised of loading bay, power and waste utilities and public toilets, café terrace and amphitheatre, which will be hidden by a grassy embankment. 

Steel pylons and wooden casings are currently stacked adjacent to the "art hill" in preparation for the construction of the amphitheatre performance space facing towards the lake.

Kane Constructiona crew L-R: Doug McDonald (Cobram), Callum Parrotte (Abbotsford), Devang Sanghi (Shepparton), Brandon Finucane (Bentleigh), Brian Harrison (Numurkah), Paul Atkinson (Tatura), Madison James (Newstead).

At the building's core will be a staircase and passenger and goods lifts to the top levels of the 31.3m-high structure, which will feature a café, bar and restaurant with lake views.

Greater Shepparton City Council project manager Thomas Lyle said the building is designed to achieve a five-star Australian Excellence rating for environmental construction and use.

"The building will consume a lot of power, but there will be micro climates and air locks in the gallery spaces designed to minimise energy use and keep it at a consistent level," he said.

Mr Lyle said treated glass will be used to minimise heat transference, toilets will be low-flow water usage, all concrete is made from sustainable materials and the timber frameworks are recycled from other building projects.

He said 98 per cent of demolition waste went to be recycled.

The new SAM building site is now a busy place with the first internal walls being prepared.

Mr Lyle said the five-storey superstructure of the building will be visible by the end of the year, with the distinctive metal exterior walls installed in 2020.

"The whole building and surrounding landscaping is designed to complement the natural surrounds of indigenous plants," he said.

"The building will age very well — it will look like it was naturally meant to be here."

Mr Finucane said after 29 years of construction work, it was a stimulating experience to work on the new SAM building.

"It's a challenge because of its complexity, but it's also extremely exciting," he said.