John hollandJohn Holland

The home to almost 500 portraits of those who’ve shaped Australia.

National Portrait Gallery

A nationally significant and distinct building, the National Portrait Gallery houses Australia’s growing portrait collection. The $82 million project included constructing permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, educational facilities, a theatre, retail, function areas and car parking.

Adjacent to Lake Burley Griffin, the purpose of the National Portrait Gallery is to present the faces of Australia, and to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people – their identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

The Gallery was designed and built to harmonise with the surrounding buildings of national significance, whilst reflecting the building’s inherent purpose. The team used the following construction methods to achieve this:

  • Symmetry and attention to stringent set out
  • Overt simplicity of detailing with no trims
  • Innovative use of the Aramax roofing material
  • Thermal brake window systems
  • Lighting to enhance the sophistication of the gallery

The façade design connects the interior with the external landscape and views, while the application of translucent glazed windows maximises the use of natural daylight.

Environmentally sustainable design was a key priority for the National Portrait Gallery, but it had to be balanced with the conflicting environmental demands of displaying artwork, a safe and comfortable atmosphere for visitors and staff, and the demands associated with preservation, conservation and storage of artwork.

  • Customer
    Commonwealth Government
  • Location
    Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
  • Specialisation
    Sport, tourism & culture
  • Start
    July 2006
  • End
    October 2008
John holland
John holland
The gallery won the Best Public Building award at the 2011 Property Council of Australia’s National Innovation and Excellence Awards.
A unique element of the building, and critical to the perception of the finished gallery, was the extensive use of Class 1 concrete. Our team gave this material significant attention by engaging the pre-eminent concrete subcontractors in Canberra and virtually reinventing the process of creating class 1 in situ concrete.


John Holland pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Custodiams of the land on which we work and live, and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples today.