UNSW's iconic Roundhouse reborn and offering ‘epic’ experiences

21 Mar 2018

UNSW's iconic Roundhouse, the venue of choice for the biggest music acts for nearly six decades, has completed a major refurbishment and is bringing new energy to the social environment of the campus.

“The completion of the Roundhouse will enhance the vibrancy of the University and students’ overall experiences,” said Andrew Walters, Vice-President, Finance and Operations at UNSW. “This is the first of many planned campus improvements that will help increase social engagement for students and the wider community.”

The Roundhouse redevelopment comprises new building services, new energy efficient exterior lighting and a refurbishment of its interior that respects the heritage of the building while adding new functionality.

Landscape improvements are also underway, providing connections to Anzac Parade, the future light rail platform and the broader campus, and the addition of several vibrant green spaces will help to reinstate the status of the Roundhouse within the lower campus of the University.



A key focus of UNSW’s 2025 Strategy, in addition to pursuing academic excellence, is increasing social engagement through the development of better facilities, links to public transport and improving overall food beverage and retail offerings on campus.

Brad Hannagan, CEO of Arc, said: “We are over the moon to once again open our doors to students, clients and the local community. The Roundhouse is not simply a venue, but a fountain of nostalgia and fond memories for its attendees and past students. We look forward to creating epic experiences and memories that last a lifetime with future guests.”

The Estate Management Department led the significant upgrade of the venue, which opened its doors on Monday 19 February in time for O-week. Design was undertaken by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with Multiplex as the contractor.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with UNSW again to breathe new life into an iconic venue and refresh this much-loved landmark on campus,” said David Ghannoum, NSW Regional Managing Director at Multiplex.

The Roundhouse provides a venue for concerts, events, conferences, seminars, box office, merchandise and food services. In addition, the building will provide a permanent University bar and beer garden with a secondary private bar area. With a capacity of 2,200 patrons, it remains one of the few venues in Sydney suitable for international live music performances.

The Roundhouse has a rich history and has long been a significant venue in Sydney’s live music scene. Constructed in 1961, it was designed by the Government Architect and Edwards, Madigan, Torzillo, Briggs Architects who later built the National Gallery and High Court in Canberra. It was considered a cutting-edge architectural statement as Sydney’s first-ever circular building and one of the only buildings solely dedicated to student recreation on a campus in NSW.

The Roundhouse has hosted a diverse range of events over the last 56 years including wedding receptions, Bacchus Balls, boxing matches, comedy nights, theatre sports, formal dinners, dance parties and even a conga line protest. A host of concerts have been held at the venue including local and international acts such as Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Ratcat, Fatboy Slim, Foo Fighters, The Living End, Green Day, INXS and Nick Cave.

The Roundhouse is the latest in a series of projects that Estate Management are delivering to provide much needed space and amenity for the University’s students, staff and visitors. Earlier in 2017, the Biosciences Stage 1 Building was completed, and later in 2018 the Electrical Engineering Building refurbishment will finish. The Science & Engineering Building and Bio Science Stage 2 Building will be completed in early 2019. 

Ian Jacobs and John Niland with Arc students

The Roundhouse was officially re-opened on 15 March at a VIP event which featured speeches from President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and former Vice-Chancellor Professor John Niland, who was a member of the Student Union board when the Roundhouse opened in 1961. The doors were then opened to students and the general public as indie-pop band San Cisco performed to a sold-out crowd.

The UNSW community would like to extend its thanks to all those who participated in the refurbishment project, especially Ken Flook from Estate Management and Shelley Valentine from Arc for their tireless work.

Inside UNSW is celebrating the refurbishment of the Roundhouse by featuring the Roundhouse Memories video series, created by UNSW’s Visual Content team in conjunction with UNSW Philanthropy. And keep an eye out for a photo gallery, The Roundhouse: Back in Action in Edition 4 of Inside UNSW.