The city of Durban has debasted the merits of building a major convention centre since the early sixties. However, it was in May 1991 that the idea came to fruition when investigations into the merits of a convention centre was initiated by Operation Jumpstart – an organization consisting of political role-players and the private sector and the then City Engineers Town Planning Department. Both sets of findings highlighted the fact that a convention centre would create both employment opportunities and the potential for a new business enterprise for KwaZulu Natal.
Although the concept was supported in principle by the city council of the time in 1993 the project was not approved until the community – based organizations were consulted. As a result Durban Infrastructural Development Trust was established in November 1993 as a 50/50 joint venture between the City Council and the extra parliamentary groups active in Durban at the time. The trust identified two projects to pursue – one of which was the Durban ICC.
In January 1994, the ICC Construction Company (Pty) Ltd was registered as an agent for the DITT and mandated to proceed with the construction and development of the Durban ICC according to construction protocol The appointred contractor was a joint venture between Murray & Roberts, Natal ( in association with KwaZumba African Builders) and Grinaker Building (in association with Phambili Construction).
Construction began in February 1994 with the first sod of soil being officially turned by the then premier of KwaZulu Natal, Dr Frank Mdlalose.
The ICC Construction Protocol was initiated as an integral component of the project giving all the aspects of the development with the aim of creating job opportunities and developing contractors from previously disadvantaged communities. Small business and disadvantaged individuals benefited from the way in which contracts were split into more than 100 separate tenders.
Three Baobabs planted in Bram Fischer Road were brought in from Louis Trichardt in Limpopo and are some of the most southern living Baobab trees in Africa. The coffee bar on the mezzanine terrace is named the Baobab Cafe. They symbolize the strength that lies in cultural groups in the province and the Human rights walls outside the old prison commemorate those who died in Sharpeville (1960) and Langa (1985)