ALIA House

sALE OF alia hoUSE

ALIA's move into a new building in Canberra in 1990 - 9-11 Napier Close, Deakin - was a major step for the Association.?Over the years, ALIA Directors have debated the merits of retaining the building as the Association's main asset.?After consultation with an Advisory Committee of long-term ALIA members and senior library leaders, the ALIA Board has made the decision to progress with the sale of the building. The property will be listed for sale in May 2020. For more information see the website.?


Architect Phillip Cox Richardson Taylor and Partners?
Builder Kell and Rigby
Project manager Baillieu Knight Frank
Location 9-11 Napier Close, Deakin, ACT 2600
Construction period February 1989 to November 1990
Cost of construction Approximately $3 million

The decision to construct ALIA House and relocate the Association's National Office to Canberra was taken in November 1988, after 12 months of investigating the options.

In November 1988, an Association Building Project Team was constituted, consisting of the then President, Alan Bundy, Ian McCallum, Alex Byrne and the Executive Director, Sue Kosse. In 1989, Averill Edwards replaced Alan Bundy as the incoming President, Eoin Wilkinson replaced Alex Byrne.

Baillieu Knight Frank was engaged to project manage the construction of ALIA House in December 1988, led by Bill Rushton.

Phillip Cox was employed as the building's architect in early 1989 after the Association conducted a competition between four architects. Phillip Cox's design was felt to show the most vision and the most understanding of the concept of libraries and their future.

Construction of ALIA House commenced in February 1989. The Foundation Stone was set in October 1989 by the Governor General, Bill Hayden. Mr Hayden removed his jacket, spurned the gloves offered, grabbed a shovel and personally dug in and mortared the Foundation Stone, into the ground in what is now the conference room. All ALIA Members were invited to this ceremony. About 200 people attended, and Mr and Mrs Hayden stayed on after the ceremony for the reception that followed.

The Honourable Ros Kelly, Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories opened the building in November 1990. All Members were invited, and again, about 200 people attended.


The foyer was carefully considered. The design represents symbolism of libraries: it is circular, the floor is of marble, and it has a glass dome above it. The gallery level is similar to a gallery in a library, where there would normally be bookshelves. The marble floor was designed by Brian Sadgrove of Melbourne. Mr Sadgrove had also undertaken projects for the National Bank of Australia and Mobil Australia. The design is from a series of four designs, based on his original artwork, and depicts 'Litter on the Forest Floor'. The marble is Italian, as Australian marble was much more expensive.

The construction of the glass windows at the front of the building was designed to represent ends of book stacks. The roof cone and barrel vaults were symbols of the future.

The layout of the entrance foyer, conference room and courtyard were designed to operate, when required, as a single unit for functions.


Canberra Centenary Time Capsule

In October 2013, organisations and individuals representing the Canberra community were invited to contribute to the Canberra Centenary Time Capsule, to be sealed on the last day of the centenary year, 11 March 2014. One hundred sets of objects were included, one of which was from ALIA. This comprised a sketch of ALIA House by the architect Philip Cox, photographs of the building at various stages, and historical notes.

The Time Capsule is contained in the Canberra Centenary Column, on City Hill, and is scheduled to be opened on 11 March 2114.