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Award-winning landscape architect lands Sydney Modern gig

Gina Fairley

Sydney Modern Project moves another step closer with the appointment of Sydney-based landscape architectural practice McGregor Coxall.
Award-winning landscape architect lands Sydney Modern gig

McGregor Coxall-designed Australian Garden at the National Gallery of Australia.

Award winning landscape architectural practice, McGregor Coxall, has been appointed to develop a design concept for the Art Gallery of NSW’s proposed $450 million flagship institution, the Sydney Modern Project.

Art Gallery of NSW Director Michael Brand said: ‘The appointment of a landscape design practice to work with SANAA is a crucial next step for the Sydney Modern Project.’ 


The Sydney-based firm will work with Tokyo architectural firm SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa) was appointed in May this year on their concept of a series of pavilion-like units that will cascade down the existing topography of the site, offering potential indoor-outdoor access at multiple levels.

Selected through invited competition, concepts by five landscape architectural firms were reviewed by an expert panel, which was comprised by Gallery representatives, SANAA and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

McGregor Coxall director Adrian McGregor said he was honoured to be given the opportunity to amplify the special qualities Sydney’s landscape required for this project and assist to integrate the buildings into the site and public domain.

‘SANAA’s concept is outward looking, engaging strongly with the surrounding landscape and communities... McGregor Coxall has a design aesthetic that aligns with SANAA’s concept. The firm’s commitment to restraint and use of finely crafted details will also complement SANAA’s style,’ said Brand.

‘We understand and appreciate the power of the landscape setting around a gallery to link with the building and generate social activity, added McGregor.

This is not the first gallery project for the firm.  The design of the National Gallery of Australia’s new entrance (pictured top), and Australian Garden with James Turrell’s environment Within without, was managed by McGregor Coxall.

McGregor Coxall-designed Australian Garden at the National Gallery of Australia with James Turrell site-responsive artwork.

‘As far as the process and the way in which we’ll work with Tokyo-based SANAA, rather than separately generating ideas we plan to work with the architects via hands on workshops so that mutual directions can be established prior to working up design options in order to deliver seamless design outcomes,’ said McGregor.

SANAA and McGregor Coxall will fully utilise 3D design capabilities, sharing designs and printing them in 3D. This was a process they used to realise the NGA concepts.  

McGregor Coxall has received more than 50 awards including the prestigious international Topos Landscape Award in 2009, and has made a strong mark already upon Sydney’s landscape.

Concept design for Parramatta River Urban Design; McGregor Coxall

Their landscape design for Ballast Point Park in Birchgrove, transformed the former Caltex site, winning them the World Waterfront Award and World Architecture Prizes in 2011. McGregor Coxall has also developed the public domain for Sydney’s first “eco-village” in Green Square, is redeveloping Parramatta's foreshore (pictured above), and is currently part of a design team creating the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Calyx project, as part of the Gardens’ 200th anniversary.

Ballast Point Park McGregor Coxall