Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is Australia’s leading gallery dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art from across Australia and around the world. It features three floors of exhibition space and the National Centre for Creative Learning that includes a library, digital and multimedia studios and seminar and lecture facilities.

A.G. Coombs was appointed by the MCA to deliver specialist maintenance for the building’s HVAC and energy systems. This includes preventative maintenance, works and repairs, inspection and testing, along with annual system condition reporting and Certification of Essential Services.

The MCA incorporates a number of specialist energy systems including a seawater heat rejection plant to and from the adjacent Sydney Harbour to help cool the facility. An intricate heat reclaim system recovers heat energy from the chillers, eliminating the need for a HVAC boiler. Ultrasonic humidification and reverse osmosis plant is used to control humidity levels, and the installation of ultraviolet lights within air handling units is resulting in cleaner coils, energy reduction and is helping to minimise contaminants within the air plenums. An Energy Management System is being used to control and monitor the plant, and remote monitoring is providing a quick turnaround for the facility to diagnose and resolve issues before further problems arise.

The MCA is one of Sydney’s premier function and event venues with four dedicated event spaces available for hire, and these offer their own challenges from a HVAC perspective. Special exhibitions have also brought their own challenges, including one that required a fog and light show and involved A.G. Coombs delivering a short-term exhaust ventilation solution to suit the exhibition requirements. A.G. Coombs Advisory was on hand to provide design and technical support.

Supporting such a complex and dynamic facility brings its complexities. A.G. Coombs has brought the specialist technical capability required to maintain the Museum’s HVAC systems, to help preserve the collection and assure visitor comfort and safety. They have extensive experience of working in critical environments, as demonstrated through their work with other galleries and the State Libraries in Victoria and New South Wales. At MCA they have applied this expertise and shown a willingness to go above and beyond, delivering atypical services to meet the museum’s specialist requirements.

Dermot Rodwell, Building Services Manager, MCA

Project Overview

Project Name: Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Location: NSW

Client: Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Project Type

Specialist maintenance for the building’s HVAC and energy systems.


  • In its first year of preventative maintenance, A.G. Coombs Service (NSW) identified new operational and engineering initiatives to enhance the reliability of the sea water plant after taking the time to learn the system and is peculiarities. In collaboration with A.G Coombs (Advisory), they developed a modified maintenance regime specifically geared to target the challenges faced, when using sea water as a form of heat rejection.
  • The MCA has recognised and understood the need for change to meet the building’s needs and, together, this new maintenance regime is already paying dividends in performance and reliability.

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