In 1956 the New South Wales Government called an open-ended international design competition and appointed an independent jury. The main requirement of the competition brief was a design for two performance halls, one for opera and one for symphony concerts. Reputedly rescued from a pile of discarded submissions, Jørn Utzon's winning entry created great community interest and the New South Wales Government's decision to commission Utzon as the sole architect was unexpected, bold and visionary.
Utzon's radical approach to the construction of the building fostered a unique collaborative and innovative environment. The design solution and construction of the shell structure took eight years to complete and the development of the special ceramic tiles for the shells took over three years. At the behest of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), the New South Wales Government changed the proposed larger opera hall into the Concert Hall because at the time, symphony concerts, managed by the ABC, were more popular and drew larger audiences than opera.
Cost overruns and a change of government resulted in Utzon's resignation from the project in 1966. Peter Hall in conjunction with the then New South Wales Government Architect completed the glass walls and interiors including adding three previously unplanned venues underneath the Concert Hall on the western side. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973, new works were undertaken between 1986 and 1988 to the land approach and Forecourt under the supervision of the then New South Wales Government Architect with contributions by Peter Hall.
In 1999, Utzon was re-engaged as Sydney Opera House architect to develop a set of design principles to act as a guide for all future changes to the building. These principles reflect his original vision and help to ensure that the building's architectural integrity is maintained.
Taking 16 years to complete, Sydney Opera House is now considered a masterpiece of late modern architecture.