Ambitious design for Pitt St Tower wins City of Sydney International Design Award

A striking new $ 1.5 billion commercial tower is to be built on one of Australia’s most significant historic sites to highlight its importance both to the local indigenous people and to Europeans in the early days of the new colony.

Once on the Sydney Harbor coastline, close to the original Government House, the site is now part of the Sydney CBD, after large tracts of land were reclaimed from the sea.

The 50-plus-level tower is scheduled to be erected at 55 Pitt Street to remind everyone where. The coastline originally stood, with greenery throughout, a water element that cascaded down six floors into the foyer, a roof garden with endangered species and a design that opens the building to the elements.

“It will celebrate the story of what it was when it related to the edge of the old harbor and reinterpret it for a moment in the 21st century,” said William Sharples, a founder of New York-based SHoP Architects, who designed the tower together with Australian firm Woods Bagot.

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“We’ve had so many conversations about the place, and its historical value and its heritage is something we all focused on. We address it on the ground floor within the first 12 meters of a pedestrian who comes in contact with the architecture, and then takes we express it all the way up the building and into the skyline. “

The vision for the Mirvac tower in premium grade close to Circular Quay has just been declared the winner of an international design competition in Sydney against five other entries from local and overseas architectural firms, with entrants including the high-profile competitors Renzo Piano and Herzog & de Meuron .

The design will celebrate the historic value of the place. Photo: Mirvac

The plans for the skyscraper, which can be as high as 232 meters with 60,000 square meters of space, are now seen as a major declaration of confidence in the future of commercial office buildings in the city’s CBD.

At a time when so many people continue to work from home and companies are struggling to renegotiate leases and reconfigure their workplaces, it is a sign that the major players see the disruption caused by COVID-19 as not sounding the death knell for city offices . Instead, developers say they simply have to work harder on quality to lure workers back to their offices.

“We’re so excited about the design,” said Tom Waters, NSW Development Director Commercial at Mirvac, the site’s owner and developer.

“We believe we are very optimistic about the future. We believe that if you provide interesting and flexible jobs, people will want to work there, and this building offers tenants a future vision of calmer water over the horizon.

“People still want to work together and collaborate, and we are all social animals in the end. There will be a slight adjustment in terms of wanting more flexibility and work, at times, from home, but there is a core need for really beautiful places. and cozy surroundings where people can work together and be social. ”

The site’s current occupant, a mid-century nine-story office building, will be demolished to make way for the new tower. It will sit on the corner of Pitt Street and Dalley Street, with the ridge bounded by Underwood Street. Queens Court, which used to be a small cobbled lane that ran through the site, will also be restored, hoping it can be transformed into a lively food and beverage area.

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The building is scheduled to be completed in 2026. Photo: Mirvac

With the detailed design work and development applications now to be prepared and the demolition and excavation work to be carried out before work can begin on the construction site, it is hoped that the tower will be completed by mid to late 2026.

Woods Bagot has previously worked with SHoP Architects on Melbourne’s 447 Collins Street for Cbus Property – a 49,000 square meter office building that is part of a mixed development with a 5-star hotel and 200 residential apartments. To the Sydney Tower, they looked together at how people are now occupying jobs around the world to ensure they pursue international best practices.

“We wanted to push the sense of liveliness for the public sector and see that it also goes through the framework,” said Woods Bagot director Domenic Alvaro. “We want to bring people back to work after COVID-19, and the priorities were health and well-being and access to fresh air and outdoor space.

“We wanted to have a high level of flexibility and to push the idea of ​​a place for creation and socialization and teamwork, in a beautiful environment with green, fresh air and naturally ventilated spaces. A large part of our thinking was also based on the area’s original cultural heritage and the performance and authenticity of expression.

“We carved an entrance that is almost an ocean cave that is inviting and embedded in nature with large trees, plants, a waterfall in the lobby and ceilings that almost provide a sheltered sanctuary with carved tidal sculptures that sit in the attic.”

It’s too early for an anchor tenant to sign up, but word has spread about the new tower for anyone with less than 10 years left to earn on their current lease to see if they might be interested in come by.

“I think a lot of companies don’t know what their workforce requirements will be yet, and that’s fine,” Mr Waters said. “The key is flexibility and adaptability, and they have the next few years to figure out what they might need so we can arrange the space to suit their needs.”

An allure of a new building rather than an old one is that there are things you can do now that would be very expensive – or impossible – to do in retrofitting, such as efficient and fast lifting systems, more fresh air and better air conditioning and higher floors. – to floor heights to let in more natural light.

Sir. Waters hopes it will resonate with all Sydney residents.

“We wanted this to be a development that is not a trophy from a signature architect, but to truly respect the place that belongs to Sydney and have a narrative of place woven through the building,” he said. “It’s for people and workers in Sydney to enjoy.”

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