The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)’s $344 million expansion project, better known as Sydney Modern, will be headed up by SANAA and Architectus.

The expansion was initially allocated an estimated budget of $450 million. However, with a $244 million funding from the NSW government, The AGNSW will now only need to raise $100 million through private donations in order to cover the $344 million project cost.

“Based on this funding envelope and feedback the AGNSW received during stakeholder consultation the architectural scheme was revised,” the project’s supporters explained during an environmental impact assessment organised by Architectus.

“A revised design brief, closely aligned to the competition brief, was developed to reflect the reduced scope.”

SANAA’s design was chosen from a competition back in 2015. The brief called for a new building attachment to the Vernon building of the AGNSW. However, the building will now be an independent structure.

The structure boasts shopping and catering facilities, a new entry plaza, galleries, visitor amenities, education spaces, terraces and the re-adaptation of an old naval fuel bunker.

Despite its proposed features, the project has gathered fierce criticism. Former prime minister Paul Keating described the project as “a swollen lump of [a] megaplex on the bridge across the expressway.”

Since the gallery’s size and location have proved problematic, the expansion has since been amended. The original concept consisted of low-lying pavilions extending towards the harbour.

“Its lightness of form speaks to the new century while respecting the architecture of the previous centuries to create a harmonious and inspiring new public space for Sydney,” the competition jury’s marveled.

“The scheme is futurist in its thinking about art museums and the visitor experience, and will be transformative for the Gallery. The scheme elegantly places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at its heart.”

The pavilion concept will be kept, but the building footprint will be scaled down. As such, 72.4 percent of the extension will be open to the general public. 78.8 percent will be built upon existing structures. The remaining 21.2 percent will be constructed on existing parkland.