RIGHT now there’s electrical wires, scissor lifts, concrete saws and plenty of mud — but eventually the Australian Centre for Democracy at Eureka could be the jewel in Ballarat’s crown.
This week City of Ballarat councillors and local media were invited inside the partially constructed building, just in time to see the final wheelbarrow of concrete poured at the site.
The $11 million project is being carried out by Ballarat-based Nicholson Constructions, who are building over the top of the existing facility at the site.
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It’s expected an “early” opening will take place in September before the official hand over in December.
Director Richard Nicholson said there were always challenges in renovating existing buildings due to unforeseen issues that come up, but said there hadn’t been any major hurdles with this project.
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“We’ve actually added floor space to this,” he said.
“We’ve been putting in new concrete and structural steel to create new spaces, so it’s a bigger building than what it was originally.”
Mr Nicholson said dismantling the giant flag mast was one of the more challenging aspects of the construction process.
Council connections and destinations manager Jeff Pulford said the new centre would provide a base for where the story of Eureka could flourish.
“We wanted to actually get the narrative around Eureka resolved first and then a building that reflected that,” he said.
“So what we’ve got is a really integrated design that’s actually built around the story.”
The new building will feature a theatre, “knowledge tower” and will form a natural amphitheatre overlooking the site of the Eureka Stockade.
Mr Pulford said the project was only months away from completion.
“From September we’ll start to move people through, just to see how things are working and to check the functionality,” he said.
“When we first got the project funded, we had a very ambitious timeline and we basically introduced an additional year — which was about making sure that we didn’t just build a building and force the story into it.”
Currently housed in the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Eureka flag will move into the centre once complete, under a loan agreement from the gallery.
It arrived back in Ballarat in December last year following extensive conservation works in South Australia.