Many visitors to Centennial Parklands, and many people who have passed by, may have found themselves looking across at a structure on the corner of Anzac Parade and Lang Road and wondering: “What’s that?”
When Centennial Park was originally conceived in the 1880s, a grand western entrance from Anzac Parade (then known as Randwick Road) was envisioned as the main entrance to the Park, but a lack of funds halted the construction.
This western entrance, originally called ‘Old Grand Drive’, was designed to link Moore Park and Centennial Park, and start around the (at the time) Moore Park Zoological Gardens running parallel to Lang Road.
Almost 100 years after first planned, and in the lead up to the Australian Centenary of Federation celebrations, funds were made available through the Commonwealth Government’s Federation Fund ($7.9 million to be exact) to redesign Old Grand Drive, rename it Federation Way and include a ‘Gateway’ feature.
The project was designed by Australian architect and urban designer, Alexander Tzannes (also known for the Federation Pavilion in Centennial Park), who won the design competition for this project.
Here’s part of the winning proposal:
The design for the entire Federation Way project was based on the original plans for Grand Drive from 1886 which included long vistas from Anzac Parade to the Park between the trees with their arched canopy.
The scope of works eventually undertaken in 2000 included resurfacing of the two lanes of Federation Way, lighting, landscaping and incorporation of the boulevard of figs, oaks and pines into the interpretation of ‘Old Grand Drive’, a safer crossing and paving zone established at Robertson Road Gates, and a chicane for horses in Centennial Park.
The reinstated Drive became the domain of pedestrians and cyclists, being closed off to regular vehicle use.
A contemporary gate, inspired by the geometry of the tree canopies, was one of the major new features. The grand gate uses timber, copper, bronze and cast iron to create a dramatic entry to the Parklands.
It stands eight metres tall and was the setting for the grand opening of the new Federation Way project in a ceremony on 9 December 2001.
Today Federation Way is a major pedestrian and cycling route, part of the link up between the city cycling network and eastern suburbs cycling network.