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2014 is a huge year for Sydney glitz and glam.

16 May

2014 is a huge year for Sydney glitz and glam.

A number of old icons are being razed for new icons. Each one of the below buildings are world class.

Under construction


International Towers | 49st, 43st, 39st / 217m, 178m, 168m /
Architect- various

The fantastic Barangaroo is emerging from the primordial soup of east Darling Harbour.



20 Martin Place
Architect- Crone Partners in collaboration with James Carpenter Design Associates (NY).

A dazzling glass Miesien box to replace the seventies dazzling glass Miesien box. The main part of the renaissance of Martin Place. The architects have moved the circulation cores out of the main floor area. The old building was reduced to a fantastic steel skeleton.
Crones are so hot right now!


5 Martin Place
Architect- Johnson Pilton Walker with Tanner Kibble Denton Architects.

A rather sympathetic and sophisticated approach to the sandstone canyon of Martin Place. Compliments the Commonwealth Bank money-box building next door.


Macquarie Martin Place headquarters
48 Martin Place.
Architect- Johnson Pilton Walker

This one looks like great fun. The architects have created a central void and a vast domed skylight.
A real urban testament to the money and glamour of banking (like something out of a Batman movie!).


UTS Information Technologies Engineering Building (Broadway)
Architect- Denton Corker Marshall (DCM)

I’m not sure how this will turn out. It is pretty cool to look at, but it’s such an ugly monolithic metallic slug on such an important site that I think in ten years time it may be reviled (especialy if the cladding rusts). Cubist marshmallow!


Urbanest student housing Wattle Street.
Architect- GROUP GSA

I’ve included this to show some interesting contextual stuff going up. Again part of the incredibly dynamic Haymarket district.


Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS
Architect- Frank Gehry

Wow- my brain hurts thinking about the brickwork in this building. Indulgent but delightful (essence of architecture, right?).
Good to see an iconic education building on this site on the end of the Goods Line pathway.


180 Thomas Street, Haymarket.
Architect- Bates Smart

A speculative corporate response to the same site as above (Goods Line pathway), sitting on top of an existing substation.
A really good effort by Bates Smart if you ask me.


Central Park
on Broadway near Central Station
Architect- Norman Foster + Partners + Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Zipping along, needless to say…
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the development encompasses a shopping mall and apartment complex, with vertical gardens featuring on its facade.

Under demolition and site prep.



Sydney Convention Centre
Darling Harbour
Architect- Hassell

Big things are planned for this site. After a tortuous couple of months the original Convention Centre (flagship of the eighties Darling Harbour) has all but disappeared.


The Castlereagh
Architect- Tony Owen

More sleek plastic for downtown Sydney, to keep the overseas investors happy.
It replaces a rather staid 1920s job.


33 Bligh Street
Architect- Fitzpatrick and Partners with Kannfinch

This is an ambitious and exciting building. It can get to be so high as the building itself sits on top of a large substation (to be hidden behind a huge sandstone screen).
It replaces a graceful but clapped out late sixties building.


333 George Street.
Architect- Crone / Grimshaw

Here’s an exciting building on a great site. It’s good to see this part of town slowly come back to life (with then night clubs, etc).
When George Street become a pedestrian area this site will soar. It will house the local branch of Marks and Sparks.

Recently Finished


8 Chifley
Architect- Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Lippmann Associates in association with Mirvac Design.

Not as exciting as the renderings, but an excellent addition to the streetscape.


Eliza Apartments
Architect- Tony Owen

This is a wee bourgeois gem. Check out the stonework at street level- really creative.

This city has no shortage of capital compared to other cities, look at the dollars being spent on projects around the city this decade.
Lets see, short list I quickly compiled.
$30b transport plan from the NSW government. Light rail, North West Rail Link, M5, M4 extension etc.
$8b Green Square/Zetland
$6b Barangaroo Lend Lease contract + $1b Crown Casino
$2.5b Darling Harbour redevelopment, Lend Lease contract (this company is obviously scratching the right backs in government)
$2b Central park
$1.3b City One/Wynyard Station
$1b AMP/Circular Quay
$1b UTS redevelopments

It’s is after 10 years of non spending post Olympics.


Latest on the Barangaroo Casino and Hotel

9 May


Image submitted by reader.

Just one image of the fourth entry in the design competition for the Barangaroo Casino and Hotel has been published. It is believed to be from an Australian design firm of international standing but the details are yet to be released.

The design has been embraced by Sydney architects as an accurate response to the history of the site and of the process so far. One Sydney architect said “The design has some strong anthropomorphic elements but it is hard to put my finger on the exact references”.

The proposed building is 72 storeys with a spectacular eight storey penthouse at the top of the stunning kinked cylindrical tower. The base is three triangular forms containing the casino, an ultra luxury spa and wellness centre that is rumoured to have a membership consisting solely of billionaire men, and a small theatre that may be open to the public for up to two matinee performances every year.

No parallels have yet been drawn to the Opera House but it seems the comparisons will be inevitable.


From the press:

Wilkinson Eyre down to final three in race for Barangaroo hotel tower
7 May, 2013 | By Richard Waite

Double Stirling Prize-winner Wilkinson Eyre has revealed its proposals in the competition to design a AUS $1 billion ‘resort’ tower in Sydney, Australia.


Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and international giant KPF are also vying for the 235m-tall hotel tower scheme which will house around 350 bedrooms, including 70 ‘opulent suites’ on the top floors as well as 100 luxury apartments, restaurants, shops a spa and casinos.

Shard-architect Renzo Piano, who was named on a four-strong shortlist in February, has since dropped out of the contest.


The six-star Crown Sydney building at Barangaroo has been billed as the ‘most iconic building to be constructed in Sydney since the Opera House’.

The victorious scheme will be built next to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ contentious three-tower Barangaroo project for developer Lend Lease.

Construction work on the resort skyscraper has been set for 2014, subject to planning, with a scheduled opening date in 2018.

A winner will be named alter this month.


130510-02 130510-01 130510-04 130510-05


Barangaroo plans reveal nation's largest office building

17 Nov

Kelsey Munro SMH November 17, 2011.

THERE may be taller buildings in Australia, but with its vast footprint, the 49-storey C3 tower at Barangaroo is likely to be the country’s largest office building in terms of floorspace.

Developer Lend Lease’s detailed plans for the second and third major commercial towers at Barangaroo were placed on exhibition by the Department of Planning yesterday, providing the most accurate glimpse yet of the future for the $6 billion urban renewal project.

At 205 metres tall with 115,291 square metres of floorspace, the northernmost commercial tower, C3, will be the tallest building at Barangaroo; but there will still be eight taller buildings in Sydney including the Citigroup and Chifley buildings.

C5, the southern tower, will be 39 storeys. Modified plans for the 42-storey C4 commercial tower standing between the two were lodged earlier this month.

Designed by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, the towers have large floorplates, curved contours and vividly coloured vertical shading panels on the facade designed to cut air conditioning requirements by up to 30 per cent.

Each tower will have fewer than 200 car spaces; with a total of 1200 bicycle spaces across the three towers as part of plans to minimise car trips and promote alternative transport.

The childcare centre, which was deleted from C4 plans, has been restored in C3, while the planned supermarket in the commercial precinct has been downsized to a ”fresh food market in the podium of C5”, a Lend Lease spokesman said.


A supermarket is likely to be part of the proposed residential towers to be built north of the commercial precinct, the spokesman said.

When complete, the three towers will provide almost 300,000 square metres of new office space in Sydney to house 24,000 workers; and 15,000 square metres of new retail floorspace at ground level.

Planning documents also proposed the use of ”responsive” digital landmarks beamed on to walls and building facades to help pedestrians navigate the new precinct. Completion of the three buildings, once approved, is scheduled for 2016.

Read more:

Barangaroo & Part 3A – Back to the drawing board

13 May

Sean Nicholls, Matthew Moore, SMH, May 13, 2011

Barangaroo to go ahead, but in what form? The Government now says Barangaroo will go ahead, but just what form the development will now take is the subject of the review.

A ”SHORT, sharp” review of the $6 billion Barangaroo development has been ordered by the state government after opponents reached agreement with the developer, Lend Lease, to adjourn Monday’s court action challenging the project.

The Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, said he will appoint an independent chairman to the review, which he hoped would be completed within two months.

Mr Hazzard moved to resolve disputes over Sydney’s biggest redevelopment when he organised the former Land and Environment court judge Robert Talbot to chair mediation talks on the project yesterday morning.

Under review … Barangaroo. Photo: Peter Rae

The meeting, which Mr Hazzard attended, included Lend Lease, the group bringing the court action, Australians for Sustainable Development, and representatives from the government’s Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

At the talks, AFSD reached a confidential agreement with Lend Lease, the Barangaroo authority and Mr Hazzard to withdraw next week’s action once the government announces the terms of reference for the review.

Mr Hazzard said he would meet with all parties over the next week and ”determine the terms of reference for a short, sharp review of the processes that have gone on to date at Barangaroo”.

Sent to council … Harbord Diggers. Photo: James Brickwood

A spokeswoman for AFSD, Marcelle Hoff, called for the terms of reference to include the size and shape of the development, but it is likely to be limited to a review of the planning processes undertaken thus far.

Ms Hoff, who is also the deputy lord mayor of Sydney, said she was ”absolutely delighted” by the outcome of the mediation talks. ”We feel very positive we will get a good outcome” from the review, she said.

Mr Hazzard called the agreement ”a win for commonsense”. He said planning decisions at Barangaroo had undermined public confidence in the process and criticised a decision by former planning minister Tony Kelly, who changed the law to ensure a favourable result in a previous court case brought by AFSD.

Sent to council … Coogee Bay Hotel. Photo: Janie Barrett

“Decisions like that of the former minister Kelly’s to amend the contamination remediation State Environmental Planning Policy to exclude the development from having to comply with normal clean-up requirements have sent a sense of frustration through the community,” he said.

Before the talks, Lend Lease had insisted the court case would proceed on Monday regardless, but it has now agreed it be delayed before being withdrawn.

It has paid the government more than $100 million for the right to develop the site and has been concerned about the cost of delays.

Sent to council … Eastern suburbs memorial park. Photo: Steven Siewert

Lend Lease’s group head of development, David Hutton, welcomed Mr Hazzard’s proposal ”as a positive step towards providing certainty and momentum for the delivery of the Barangaroo south project”.

Mr Hutton said the agreement meant Australians for Sustainable Development would immediately withdraw other legal challenges to the basement and first commercial tower, known as C4.


As you were on Part 3A development proposals
Sean Nicholls, SMH, May 13, 2011.
BILLIONS of dollars worth of projects that Labor took control of under the contentious Part 3A planning laws will be sent back to local councils by the O’Farrell government. The projects will include the controversial $150 million redevelopment of the Coogee Bay Hotel.

But the Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, will announce today that the government will deal with about 460 of more than 550 development applications that were not decided under the old system before the change of government.

Most of those will be referred to an independent body, the Planning Assessment Commission.

Mr Hazzard said he wanted to ensure the applications were dealt with ”transparently and openly” in contrast to the previous system, known as Part 3A, which the O’Farrell government is scrapping for all residential, retail, commercial and coastal development.

Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act allowed the minister to be the sole consent authority for big projects. Developers were allowed to apply to the minister to have their projects dealt with under the provisions even if they exceeded local planning rules about height, density and zoning.

Among the projects being returned to councils are the proposed redevelopments of the Coogee Bay Hotel, Harbord Diggers and the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

Announcing his decision, Mr Hazzard said the way the previous minister, Tony Kelly, had handled the proposal for the Coogee Bay Hotel as ”really quite concerning”.

Residents strongly opposed the redevelopment but Mr Hazzard said Mr Kelly had failed to make public the fact that he had decided to deal with it under Part 3A just before the state election.

The hotel is in the state seat of Coogee, which was under threat from the Liberals and the Greens. Labor’s Paul Pearce lost the seat to the Liberals’ Bruce Notley-Smith.

”When we examined the paperwork we found that the minister had in fact declared the Coogee Bay Hotel on December 10,” Mr Hazzard said.He said it was ”very, very disappointing to think that the former minister Tony Kelly signed off on the Coogee Bay Hotel and failed to tell anybody right through that 3½ month period and right through the election.”

He said about 63 projects, including the Coogee Bay Hotel proposal, would be sent back to councils ”where they belong”. The government will refund the application fees for these projects.

About 102 residential, retail, commercial and coastal projects will still be dealt with under Part 3A because they had progressed through the planning process to a point where their owners had spent a significant amount of money. The government has committed to developing a new method of determining when a project is of state significance and how those projects will be decided.

Mr Hazzard said he hoped the new approach would be settled on within ”a couple of months”.

Editor’s note- Part 3A was introduced by the previous Labor government in 2005 and gave the planning minister consent authority for major projects deemed to be of state or regional significance or with a budget over $50 million. Certain projects (large job creating, infrastructure and high density housing) were considered too important to be jepodised by petty local politicians. It is a worry that this process has been stopped as it may derail projects for the greater good (inner city high-density housing, etc).

Barangaroo C4 is shrinking – city tower is cut down to size

7 Mar

Vikki Campion From: The Daily Telegraph February 11, 2011

BARANGAROO is shrinking.

Critics slammed the latest office tower to hit NSW Planning desks, a 42-storey goliath, for being too broad and bulky.

Architects had a second go at it yesterday, slimming the $1 billion building by 6m.

Developers have slashed back the original plans, paring back the pier length from 150m to 85m, the hotel height from 213m to 159m, and the number of commercial towers from four to three.

British architect Lord Richard Rogers, famous for designing the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyd’s building in London and the new Tower 3 at the reconstructed World Trade Centre, drew the inside-out building in a “contemporary architectural style” that makes it appear transparent.

The lifts have been cut from nine to eight, projecting bays have been replaced with recessed bays, and its edges have been “tapered and curved” in a bid to shorten its appearance.

Lend Lease’s group head of development David Hutton said the changes came after 20 submissions from the public.

“We have responded to Sydney City Council’s comments and introduced refinements that improve the scale and appearance of the building and we have produced an even better result,” he said.

At 176.5m tall, the building will have 88,582 sq m of commercial floor space. It is due to be completed in 2014.


Ken Maher of Hassell- Shaper of things to come

3 Mar

Louis White, The Australian February 26, 2011


Ken Maher, part of the design team for the $6 billion Barangaroo urban regeneration in Sydney.

Picture: Jane Dempster Source: The Australian

IT’S appropriate that Ken Maher was born in a town halfway between Sydney and Brisbane.
On the banks of the NambuccaRiver, Macksville – population 3000 – is a town where children need to use their imagination to entertain themselves. It stood Maher in good stead to become one of Australia’s leading architects, unrestricted by traditional city landscapes.

The way cities are built is the one thing Maher wants to change, and feels needs to change.

“Buildings in the past have been built as sealed boxes that you pump cold air into,” Maher says.

“In the 19th century you basically had big buildings and houses, with nothing in between. In the 20th century we saw specialists in the design of buildings accentuating the difference between apartment, office and warehouse buildings, for example.
“Now going forward we will see less specialist building types and more buildings that can be adapted to climate issues, occupancy requirements combined with a change in the production of buildings.”

Maher says technology will change the fabric of buildings, especially in high-growth population countries.

Sekisui Wentworth point

Japanese company Sekisui House, the largest builder of prefabricated sustainable housing, has made inroads into the Australian market, he notes.

“When we think of prefabricated houses we think of container boxes and cheap, nasty concrete factories, but that is all going to change mostly through digital technology,” Maher says. “The future will see very different designs and materials used for buildings and houses.”

Maher, the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2009 gold medallist, was instrumental in the design of one of Australia’s most sustainable buildings, the ANZ Centre.

ANZ’s new headquarters at 833 Collins St in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct is the largest, greenest commercial office building in the country.

The building has a top six-star Green Star Office Design rating from the Green Building Council and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent, the equivalent to taking 2000 cars off the road every year.

Water consumption will be 60 per cent less than the industry average. A green roof and exterior sun shading not only maximise daylight but reduce heat gain and loss.

“When you start on a project you never know where it is going to end,” Maher says.

“With the ANZ building we thought it important to make a shift in the thinking of how people work together. We wanted the ground floor to be place where everyone could come together to promote a feel-good meeting space.”

The building has the equivalent of 80 storeys flattened out into 10, with no staff member sitting more than 11m from natural light.

“We need to think how design can be used as a positive force in the cities,” Maher says.

“By making changes to commercial buildings it can lead to better outcomes for the city and that means everyone, including the workers, the travellers and the people who live there.”

In the 1950s and 60s people lived in suburbia and came to the cities for work, Maher says, but society has changed and people now live in and around central business districts. “So we need to adapt,” Maher says.

He cites his upbringing in the country as being influential on his designs.

“Growing up every day looking at the landscape had its impact,” he says. “As far back as I can remember I was always drawing. People around me made the connection between drawing and architecture, though I personally didn’t know any architects.”

Maher went to the University of NSW, where he studied for a bachelor of architecture, graduated with first-class honours and completed his masters degree a few years later.

Before and during his studies he worked at the NSW Department of Works on a cadetship before entering the world of private enterprise with a firm by the name of Nielsen Warren and Mark Windass Architects, whose name soon changed to Warren Windass Associates.

After a short stint travelling overseas Maher returned to Australia to take over the partnership and renamed it the Quay Partnership in 1979 until 1985, when he formed Ken Maher and Partners, which led to the creation of Hassell in 1993, of which he is chairman today.

“I am very project driven,” Maher says. “I like projects that make places. That is very stimulating and I get very excited by a new project. The whole creative process gets me up in the morning.”

Maher is very proud of the Olympic Park Rail Station in Sydney, which won the Australian Institute of Architects’ Sir John Sulman Award in 1998. (He won the same award for the National Institute of Dramatic Art building in Sydney’s Kensington in 2002.)

“When we were building the Olympic Park I was influenced by Grand Central Station in New York,” he says. “I wanted to feel as though they were meeting somewhere exciting and where a whole story came together.”

Maher has also been heavily influenced by his landscape design and environmental studies.

He was a founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia and a member of the technical steering committee that developed the Green Star rating tools for the building industry.

“My landscape design and environmental studies broadened my view and pushed me to work on bigger projects,” he says.

“I am now influenced by climate change, the ethos of our cities and providing a better building, for the individual, company and the climate.”

Maher’s greatest challenge lies ahead as he is part of the design team for the $6 billion Barangaroo urban regeneration on the fringe of Sydney’s central business district.

“Any development in Sydney is controversial whereas in Melbourne they just get on with it,” he says in response to the ongoing debate over the project. “I think a lot of the debate has been over the size of the buildings and not the real issues.

“We desperately need a new way of accommodating people in the cities in terms of occupancy and design, and Barangaroo offers that opportunity.

“Obviously it has to relate to the rest of the city but we have a fantastic under-utilised waterfront and Barangaroo will provide another new experience and I think it will be a really interesting place.

“We sometimes hang on to the old for the sake of hanging on to the old. If we didn’t have the Opera House, it wouldn’t have allowed us to do many other things in this city.”


01- Canberra Playhouse Theater, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall

02- Fox Studios Car Park, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall

03- National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall

04- North Sydney Olympic Pool, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall

05- Westpac Place Headquarters Fit-out, Sydney, Photo: Tyrone Branigan

Images: Australian Institute of Architects

Editor- it helps that this guy is really well connected with the Council…

C4 Barangaroo- Yeah Baby!

4 Dec

LEND LEASE has shaved the length and reduced the mass of the first of three giant office towers planned for Barangaroo in a bid to defuse opposition to the controversial development.

C4 Commercial Building.

Plans for the 43-storey tower to sit in the middle of three commercial buildings at East Darling Harbour show 90-metre long walls have been trimmed by five metres and the building has been ”articulated” to break up its bulk from having floors of 2500 square metres, bigger than almost all comparable buildings in Sydney.

Designs for the waterfront tower by British architects Ivan Harbour and Lord Richard Rogers from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have been submitted to the Department of Planning for approval and will go on display today in a timetable that David Hutton from Lend Lease expects will see it approved before the March election.

”It could be approved by the end of the first quarter of next year … the reason we are doing this now is we are seeking to start construction next year to complete in 2014,” Mr Hutton said.

A great deal of work had gone into designing an ”absolutely world-class building” and especially into moderating the bulk or ”visual massing” of the building called C4, as seen from the south, he said.

C4 would be the ”greenest business address in the world” using 75 per cent less energy than the average Sydney office building, recycling all water and offering only 188 car spaces compared with parking for 708 bicycles.

Despite such credentials and design changes, the plans are unlikely to satisfy critics, including the City of Sydney which has called for the top third of all three office towers to be slashed in size with floors of only 1400 square metres to reduce bulk and the loss of winter sun at Darling Harbour.

Lend Lease has also irritated critics by lodging development applications for the earthworks and the tower before the Planning Minister has approved a separate application to vary the overall planning regime. Barangaroo needs the change to allow construction of a hotel in the harbour and 15 per cent more floor space.

The president of the Barangaroo Action Group, Ian Campbell, said it was absurd for the government to consider individual development applications before it had settled on the concept plan for the site and has already foreshadowed a legal challenge to the project.

Mr Hutton said there was no basis for a challenge and Lend Lease had spent a lot of time to ensure it complies.

”We think it’s a stunning building,” he said.




> Construction of a new commercial Building C4 with a maximum 109,964m2 GFA accommodating:
– 10,683m2 retail floor space;
– 97,411m2 commercial floor space;
– 1,870m2 of community uses for the purposes of a child care centre;
– operation and use of the basement car park to accommodate 181 spaces allocated specifically to the proposed uses within Building C4; and
– 708 bicycle spaces.
> Construction of the surrounding public domain.
> Signage zones of the building facade that will accommodate building and business identification signage.



The planning application for the first of the three major office towers at Barangaroo South has been lodged with the Department of Planning and is currently on public exhibition. 

With a working name of C4, the 180m commercial tower has been designed by Ivan Harbour and Lord Richard Rogers, of the internationally acclaimed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.  The proposed design sits within the approved building envelope in the existing 2009 Concept Plan, so can proceed prior to the outcome of the assessment of the proposed Concept Plan Amendment (Mod 4), which is currently under review.

The C4 Commercial building represents a new model for offices of the future designed to meet the needs of the world’s most progressive businesses including:
large, clear and open floor plates that improve productivity and communication;
healthier and more attractive environments that provide great places to be and to work;
connected and accessible locations that offer immediate access to quality amenities;
flexible workspace that is adapted to the latest working practices and business models;
the most advanced environmental and sustainability outcomes.
The C4 Commercial building will achieve a 6-Star Green Star rating and take advantage of shared, precinct-wide infrastructure and services to deliver a carbon neutral, water positive and zero waste outcome.  Its sustainability ambitions will be achieved by aspects such as the positioning of lift cores and ‘vertical village’ communal spaces on the external northern elevation of the building which improves energy consumption, provision for green planting spaces at various levels of the building, and photovoltaic panels which will sit above the open rooftop terrace. 
C4 and Barangaroo South benefit from an innovative shared basement design.  The technology and infrastructure included in these basements will improve environmental outcomes and allow C4 to be 100% carbon neutral, including new off-site renewable energy and use 75% less energy; recycle all of its water; and, direct 80% of its waste away from landfill when compared to a typical Sydney office building.

The full documentation for C4 and a model of the building can be viewed at the Information Centre, Department of Planning, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney or online at



The full documentation for C4 and a model of the building can be viewed at the Information Centre, Department of Planning, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney or online at


All eyes on Barangaroo
Philip Hopkins
November 20, 2010

THE proposed 300,000-square-metre commercial development at Barangaroo will meet almost half the underlying demand in the Sydney central business district office market over the next decade, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

A JLL report finds Barangaroo has the capacity to satisfy 47 per cent of CBD office needs between 2011 and 2020. The report, Barangaroo: in Perspective – the Next Evolution of the Sydney CBD Office Market, assesses the requirements of modern corporate occupiers, the proposed development at Barangaroo and the impact on the Sydney CBD office market.

The director of office market research at JLL, Andrew Ballantyne, said the demand for Sydney CBD office space in the next decade was forecast at 635,000 square metres. He said finance and insurance was a growth sector of the NSW economy and should account for 40 per cent of the additional demand to 2020.

”The Sydney CBD office market, similar to the early 1980s, has limited spare capacity for this stage of the recovery,” he said. ”We believe the vacancy rate has peaked at 8.1 per cent and is forecast to tighten over the next three years.”

In contrast, previous cyclical peaks in the Sydney CBD occurred at 13 per cent (mid 1970s recession), 4.3 per cent (early 1980s recession), 22.5 per cent (early 1990s recession) and 11.9 per cent (post-2000 slowdown).

Over the past 40 years, development cycles in the Sydney CBD had occurred in periods of low vacancy and above-trend rental growth, he said.

The JLL research forecasts vacancy will tighten to 6.3 per cent in the Sydney CBD by 2013 and prime gross effective rents will rise by an average of 8.5 per cent a year from 2011 to 2013.

”Based on our current vacancy projections, the Sydney CBD will be pushing up against supply-side constraints by 2012,” Mr Ballantyne said. ”Therefore, Sydney is scheduled to have a development cycle starting in 2012. Limited availability of sites in the CBD core and evolving requirements of large tenants seeking space with a minimum floor plate of 2000 square metres determine that Barangaroo will be the location for a high proportion of the forecast completions in the 2014-to-2016 time frame.”

Mr Ballantyne said the perception was false that Barangaroo would create an oversupply in Sydney.

”Based on an estimate of 2013 stock levels, Barangaroo will only account for approximately 6 per cent of the existing stock levels in the Sydney CBD,” he said, adding that there was a global trend in major financial centres towards big, modern corporate occupiers seeking large floors – preferably a minimum of 2000 square metres – with minimal intrusions in terms of columns and core areas.

He said tenants’ preference for larger floor plates was highlighted by the breakdown of the Sydney CBD vacancy rate. Total market vacancy was 8.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year but for prime buildings with average floor plates of more than 2000 square metres, it was very tight at 4.8 per cent.