The Toaster is a controversial residential apartment building in Sydney's Circular Quay. It was part of a multi-use development officially named the "Bennelong Apartments" designed by Andrew Andersons and PTW Architects, which was completed in 1998.
Bennelong Apartments consists of three buildings. No. 1 Macquarie Street, is the northernmost building in the development. It is connected via a bridge at its southern end to the slightly lower no. 3-7 Macquarie Street building, which houses a cinema, restaurants and shops, as well as apartments. The southernmost building, no. 41 Macquarie Street, houses a hotel. The nickname "the Toaster" derives from the resemblance of no. 1 to the kitchen appliance, but is also applied to the whole complex.
In November 2007 an apartment in the building sold for $8.4 million. With an internal area of 190 square metres, the price of $44,210 per square metre is an Australian record.
The Bennelong Apartments sit on the eastern side of Sydney Cove or Circular Quay. This was the site of the first landing by Europeans in Sydney, on 26 January 1788. The governor's temporary canvas house was erected on the east side of the cove. Unlike the southern and western sides of Sydney Cove, the eastern side of the cove remained largely uninhabited in the early years of the colony; one notable inhabitant was Bennelong, after whom the adjacent Bennelong Point and Bennelong Apartments are named. In the early 19th century, the entire area was part of the Governor's Domain, though some commercial activity developed along the shoreline.
During the construction of Circular Quay in 1837-1844, the eastern side of the cove was used as a quarry and housed construction works. After the governor's residence was moved up the hill to the present Government House, in the 1840s and 1850s Macquarie Street was extended north through the Governor's Domain to Fort Macquarie. This led to the development of the area between the street and the shore into a commercial working wharf dominated by the wool trade, while the eastern side of the street remained part of the Domain. This part of Macquarie Street became known as the "wool store" end. Wool and bond stores and warehouses appeared on the site. The historic "Moor Steps" was built in 1868 as a passage between two wool stores, leading from the shore to Macquarie Street.
Major redevelopment of East Circular Quay did not occur until the 1950s. Wool stores were demolished and replaced by a number of modernist commercial buildings lining the eastern side of Circular Quay. The height limit was increased from 150 feet to 915 feet in 1959, and East Cirulcar Quay soon became dominated by skyscrapers.
Between 1971 and 1989, Colonial Mutual Life acquired land along east Circular Quay for a large scale development. The initial, highly controversial design, was revised after the intervention of Prime Minister Paul Keating. In return for reducing the height of the building and adding a colonnade to facilitate public access, the development was permitted to protrude further towards the foreshore, with the design finalized in 1992.
Many locals feel that the design of the building does not enhance the Sydney Harbour foreshore; the building has been criticised for the quality of its design, its occupation of previously public space, and its positioning, blocking historical sightlines. David Williams describes the Toaster as a "building that most Sydneysiders would quite happily blow up". Lavartus Prodeo developed The Toaster awards for crimes against amenity - a reference to the controversial architecture of the building.