|Australia Square Tower|
Circular form of the Tower Building
|Owner||GPT and DEXUS|
|Floor area||65,000 m2 (700,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Pier Luigi Nervi|
|Main contractor||Civil and Civic|
Australia Square is an office and retail complex in the central business district of Sydney, Australia. Its main address is 264 George Street, and the Square is bounded on the northern side by Bond Street, eastern side by Pitt Street and southern side by Curtin Place.
The building was designed by Harry Seidler & Associates. Today, it remains a landmark building in Sydney and is regarded as iconic to Australian architecture. It has even been described as the most beautiful building in Australia. The outstanding feature of the Square is the Tower Building which from its completion in 1967 until 1976 was the tallest building in Sydney.
Australia Square is owned by GPT Group. In 1967 the building won the Sir John Sulman Medal for its innovative and appealing design. During the mid-1990s the building was completely refurbished. Another $11 million refurbishment program, which included replacing all paving in public areas with Italian porphyry paving stone, new lighting and outdoor tables was conducted in 2003.
Australia Square was constructed shortly after height restrictions were lifted in the city of Sydney and at a time when small sites, including blocks created by lane ways, were being consolidated into larger blocks to accommodate high-rise office towers.
It was the world's tallest light weight concrete building at the time it was built. The Tower Building is approximately 170 metres tall and occupies only one quarter of the block. The circular plan of the main tower allowed Seidler to minimise what he called "the dark canyon effect", an approach further helped by setting the tower back from the street.
The original proposal included 58 floors; however, this was reduced to 50. On the 47th floor is a revolving restaurant called The Summit and the 48th floor houses an observation deck. The building contains one of Sydney's largest basement car parks with spaces for 400 vehicles. The major tenants of the Tower include Origin Energy, HWL Ebsworth and ninemsn.
The city block which is now Australia Square is approximately 5,500m² in area, and formerly held some 30 properties and buildings. Australia Square was constructed by Civil and Civic. Construction, starting with demolition of the old buildings, began in 1961. The finished tower is 50 storeys tall with most of these available for commercial tenants, a total of 40900 square metres.
The tower is constructed of lightweight concrete, with 20 projecting vertical columns tapering to the summit and supporting a combination of interlocking rib-structured reinforcement and radial support beams. The tower is 42 metres in diameter, with a central core of 20 metres diameter. The core contains elevator shafts, emergency stairwells and service conduits. Each floor is donut shaped, with a clear span of 11 metres to the perimeter windows and a total area of 1032 sqm each. Construction time for each floor was five working days—a new standard in office tower construction.
Facing Pitt Street is the 13-storey Plaza Building, a comparatively simple rectangular office building. Alongside the Tower Building sits a large abstract steel sculpture by Alexander Calder. There is also a sculpture by Seward Johnson Jr, "Waiting". The reception area displays a sculpture by Norman Carlberg and contains tapestries by Joan Miró and John Olsen. Le Corbusier and Victor Vasarely also had tapestries on display however due to fading the pieces were removed and replaced with a mural by Sol LeWitt.
Extensive public open space, including fountains, is a feature of the Square. This design feature is an early example of including a public open space on private land. There are numerous entrances to the retail precincts in the lower ground level of the Tower, which include a post office and food outlets. The retail target is the office worker on a lunch break, and the open-plan design and ease of access have been styled accordingly.
Taller buildings in Sydney
The Australia Square Tower building held its Sydney height record only for nine years. In 1976 the south building of the AMP Centre was opened at 188 metres, although having only 45 storeys and no public observation deck. The following year, the MLC Centre came in at 228 metres and 60 storeys, and it remains the tallest office building in Sydney. Sydney Tower, including its spire, is 305 metres tall (the observation decks are around 250 metres). Right across George Street from Australia Square is the 186 metre Suncorp Building which opened in 1982 as the Qantas Building.
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