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Harry Seidler will never be forgotten

1 Dec

25 Nov 11, Emma Page

Harry’s Park at Milsons Point.


PENELOPE Seidler endured a tough and expensive battle to save a public park in Milsons Point from becoming a seven-storey development.

In 2006 she paid $5 million to Multiplex to acquire the right to protect the state-owned site as a park for perpetuity.

This month the harbourside green space was officially renamed “Harry’s Park” after her late husband, Australian architect Harry Seidler.

The private ceremony on Thursday, November 10, attracted dignitaries, business and community leaders including North Sydney MP Joe Hockey, North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffery and Australian author David Malouf.

“I’m very happy about it – it looks fantastic, it blends very nicely with the surroundings,” Mrs Seidler told the Daily.

“I’m sure Harry would have been thrilled.”

Penelope and Polly Seidler at the opening of Harry’s Park.


The park, which boasts 180-degree views of Sydney Harbour, was designed using elements and materials that characterised Seidler’s work.

These include “smooth white and textured grey finishes, strong geometric forms and soft irregular planting”, project architect and Harry Seidler & Associates partner, John Curro said.

It also features a Robert Owen designed bright blue metal sculpture `Tracing Light – for Harry 3D/4D’.

Milsons Point has special significance to Mrs Seidler as her father grew up in Kirribilli with his brothers and sang in the choir at St Johns Anglican church in Kirribilli.

Harry’s Park

* New public park at the corner of Glen and Dind Streets, Milsons Point commemorating iconic Australian architect Harry Seidler

* In 2006, Harry’s wife Penelope Seidler paid $5 million to Multiplex to save the block from a multi-storey development

* The state government had previously given Multiplex a 99-year lease for $1

* The park was partly funded by a $150,000 grant from North Sydney Council

* It adjoins the 1973 Seidler Office building

* Famous Seidler designs include Rose Seidler House, MLC Centre, Australia Square, the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and the controversial Blues Point Tower



Paddington Reservoir Gardens

21 Nov

I visited the Paddington Reservoir Gardens yesterday and was very impressed.  It’s the closest thing Sydney has to a Roman ruin. It also blocks out the noise from Oxford Street well- a real urban oasis.

Beware- the image files below are quite large (about 800Kb), so may take long to load.

Listed as a site of State heritage significance, Paddington Reservoir was originally constructed in two stages, in 1866 and 1878, with water chambers below street level. A grassed park above was opened in the 1930s. Decommissioned in 1899, the site was used as a workshop and garage until 1990 when roof collapses forced its closure.

The concept for Paddington Reservoir Gardens was embodied in the existing artefact. An accessible sunken garden and pond, surrounded by a raised pre-cast concrete boardwalk, have been inserted within the conserved ruin of the Western Chamber. The edges of the ruin are contained by concrete that amplifies the distinctive curves of the original brick vaults. The gated Eastern Chamber has been conserved as a multi-purpose community space. The stabilised brickwork and reconstructed hardwood columns form the base for the new landscaped park above.

Two lightweight roofs float above the Reservoir, signalling the main entry points.

A restricted palette of three materials – steel, aluminium and concrete – was chosen as contemporary partners for the historic brick, cast iron and timber. Their raw expression is softened by generous planting and water below with sweeping lawns above. The walkways and gardens invite exploration of this unique urban ruin.

Text by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design and City of Sydney

The site back in simpler times (probably the 1970’s).

City 'could be free of traffic'

13 Nov

Editor’s note- interesting stuff here, but I think that we should step carefully trying to pedestrianise areas of Sydney. Much of the dynamic nature of modern “new-world” cities is centred around focussed activity, and there are many examples of planners destroying previously vibrant areas with pedestrian zones (eg- Martin Place). I don’t think that fat guys lounging on chairs is what I want to see in Times Square (or George Street for that matter….).

Article below- SMH, November 13, 2010 Josephine Tovey

SHE is the woman whose job it is to stop New York City traffic – literally. As transport commissioner of New York, Janette Sadik-Khan was charged with easing the congestion crisis in the Big Apple, which she has done with more than 320 kilometres of bicycle paths, new bus and ferry routes and ambitious projects such as turning the once jammed Times Square into a plaza.

Imagine this … Janette Sadik-Khan, New York’s transport commissioner, in George Street, Sydney. Photo: Quentin Jones

She has been vindicated by a 100 per cent increase in cycling since 2006, a drastic reduction in the number of accidents and faster-moving traffic.

As a guest of the City of Sydney council, which is trying to implement its radical cycle and pedestrian-friendly reform, Ms Sadik-Khan is here to try to convince us that if you can make it happen in New York, you can make it happen anywhere.

A pedestrianized Times Square in New York ca. 2009. Image from Sean_Marshall on Flickr.

”If we’re going to make a city that people want to be in we have to prioritise these investments,” she said.

Hers has been a formidable task in a city as notorious for its bellicose populace as its gridlocked streets, but Ms Sadik-Khan, a former corporate lawyer and cycling enthusiast, did not tread lightly.

The centrepiece of her reforms has been turning Times Square, where the average speed used to be 6.4 kilometres an hour and the defining sound was the car horn, into a safe plaza for the 356, 000 people who visit on foot each day.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 7th Ave., Times Square, looking north.

Lanes were closed to cars, cycling strips introduced and cafe tables scattered where taxis used to dominate. New York Magazine praised her efforts as ”bypass surgery on the heart of New York”.

”People don’t go to Broadway to see the traffic,” she said. ”Now they have a way to really enjoy it.”

The changes were incremental, a key tactic in winning over her boss, the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and the public.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 6th Ave., Herald Square, looking south.

For the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, to realise her ambition of making George Street a pedestrian precinct, Ms Sadik-Khan advised: ”Try it on weekends, try it at a different time of day, paint it a little different and assess it and report back to the public and say this is what we’ve found,” she said. ”That takes a lot of the anxiety out.”

Even so, she has had plenty of critics at home and has been labelled an ”anti-car extremist”. Under the City of Sydney’s 2030 strategy, George Street should become a pedestrian plaza with light rail running down its spine.

The state government is undertaking studies on the alignment for a light rail extension in the central business district but has not committed to the council’s plan.

”I’m rather envious of Bloomberg. He has greater powers than I do,” said Cr Moore yesterday.

”To do the sort of thing they have done you need to be able to get on and do the job whereas I need to negotiate with the RTA.”



City takes a bite of Big Apple plan

Drew Warne-Smith, The Australian November 13, 2010

WHEN Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore envisioned a greener city, she took cues from NYC’s Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Since 2007, as part of New York City’s “PlaNYC 2030” development program, Ms Sadik-Khan has been overseeing a radical overhaul of how people get around the Big Apple. Car lanes have been closed, new dedicated cycleways established and public spaces expanded.

It’s a plan eerily similar to Ms Moore’s strategy, with more than a little echo in the “Sustainable Sydney 2030” title.

In Sydney as a guest of the city council, Ms Sadik-Khan is unabashed in saying her strategies can be implemented effectively in Australia, given a little tinkering.

“All world-class cities are taking a look at what they need to do differently, not only for the health of the planet, but for the well-being of their cities,” she told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

She also maintains it is realistic to expect Sydneysiders to leave their cars at home and cycle into the city in high numbers – come rain, hail or shine.

“They do it in Copenhagen, they do it in lots of cold climates . . . And it’s an outdoor culture here,” she says, adding that accident numbers in New York are well down where cycleways exist.

But Ms Sadik-Khan concedes she knows little of the day-to-day reality of the public transport system in Sydney.

Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of developers’ lobby group Urban Taskforce, says that any plan to encourage people out of their cars presumes a reliable, fast, transport network capable of moving those people where they need to go. “Vast areas of Sydney are very poorly serviced by public transport,” Mr Gadiel says.

With the City of Sydney looking at capping or banning parking spaces in new housing projects, the plan to favour cyclists over motorists also effectively shuts out the elderly, disabled and young families from the inner city — creating a monoculture of young singles, childless couples and students.

Given an insight into some of the problems, Ms Sadik-Khan concedes that “you can’t wish people on to buses”.

“An effective transit system is the mark of a world-class city,” she says. “New York City has been lucky in its development because in 1904 when the first subway was built, that actually laid out how the city would develop. We’re really the grand-daddy of transit oriented development.”

As an advocate of a congestion tax on city motorists (a levy was passed by the New York City Council but rejected by state legislators in 2008), Ms Sadik-Khan has been decried by critics, including many small business owners, as an “anti-car radical” and “elitist”.

New York Magazine even credited her with sparking a “peculiar new culture war – over the automobile”.

“Change is always difficult,” she says with a wry smile when asked about the resistance to her work.

“There are 8.4 million New Yorkers and sometimes it feels like there are 8.4 million traffic engineers.”

Ms Moore would do well to take note.



Harold Park plan one third park

19 Jul

Local News16 Jul 10 @ 04:58pm by staff

More than a third of the Harold Park Paceway site in Glebe could become park under draft planning controls soon to be considered by Sydney Council.

The plans include 3.9 hectares of park with a sports field, walking paths and a cycle link to Johnston’s Creek and the Glebe foreshore.

Sydey Council’s CEO Monica Barone said the overwhelming request from locals was for parkland.

During extensive consultation the community told us they wanted improved local village facilities, new open space, protection for the historic Tram Sheds and opportunities for the development to be sustainable. This is what we hope to deliver,” Ms Barone said.Ms Barone said plans would allow for the restoration of the historic tram sheds and would allocate 500 sqm of floor space for community uses within the sheds.

Some 1,200 dwellings would be housed on the land, with at least 50 affordable housing units. Maximum height would be eight storeys, no higher than the cliff-top 2-3 storey terrace houses in Glebe.

The Council believes the plan balances community requests while helping the council to meet residential and worker targets set by the State Government.

Access to the Jubilee Park light rail station will be improved, giving residents a valuable and sustainable transport optionThe draft planning controls will be considered at Central Sydney Planning Committee on July 22 and by Council on July 26.
Locals will then have another chance to voice an opinion on the plans.
NSW Harness Racing Club Chief Executive John Dumesny told Cumberland Courier Newspapers that his organisation which owns the site could not accept the increased demand for open space.
“For the past few months we have been advised by the Council that the Club would have to provide new open space areas as part of the rezoning, which we were happy to assist with,” he said, “however this amount of space seems excessive to the needs of the area.”
The plans have also failed to impress the Greens. City of Sydney Greens Councillor Chris Harris told the Courier he would not be voting for the plans.
“I thought 1,000 apartments was already excessive,” Cr Harris said.
“I applaud the council’s efforts to improve the amount of public space, but I wouldn’t be trading this off with an overdevelopment.”


Sydney Harbour foreshore development slammed

19 Jul

Jennifer Macey, July 8, 2010

ELEANOR HALL: Preliminary work started today on the Barangaroo project on one of Sydney’s last remaining harbour foreshore development sites.

The $6 billion dollar development has been described as one of the most ambitious waterfront projects in Australia.

But it has been controversial from the start with debates over its name, the scope of the development and the design and size of its proposed hotel tower as Jennifer Macey reports:

JENNIFER MACEY: There are a couple of joggers and walkers heading around the harbour foreshore at the Barangaroo site in Sydney between The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

This undeveloped section of Sydney’s harbour foreshore is a 22 hectare concrete slab that used to be a car park. It juts out towards the water from the edge of the CBD.

Those that do stop to talk to The World Today aren’t sure of the scale or details of the development proposals. But they all say they want part of the site left open to the public.

VOX POP 1: I think it’s a great idea to actually do something that the public can use down here. I think you know it is actually a beautiful spot and when Patricks were here you didn’t even realise you know how nice it was.

So if they do something that everyone can use I think that’s a great thing.

VOX POP 2: They haven’t really come out with what they’re going to do yet. And hopefully they’re not just going to like put a bunch of business blocks on it because I think it’s too good a view to waste.

JENNIFER MACEY: The developers Lend Lease have now been given permission to start preparing the Barangaroo site before building can begin.

The CEO of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority John Tabart says a fence has been set up so that the foreshore walk can stay open to the public.

JOHN TABART: So Lend Lease will have access to a portion of the Barangaroo area. The foreshore walk will track around their occupation allowing the public to continue and the cyclists and joggers to continue to use the waterfront walk, albeit interrupted by the construction works in some of its perimeter.

JENNIFER MACEY: While construction work is expected to begin later this year the developers Lend Lease have had to change their concept plan due to public opposition.

The amended project will now have three rather than four office towers and the hotel tower on the edge of the water has been pushed back and lost a few stories.

The development of Sydney’s last remaining prime waterfront real estate has attracted heated debate in the city.

Community groups, town planners, even former prime minister Paul Keating have offered their suggestions for the site.

Architect Paul Berkemeier is from the firm that won the initial design competition.

PAUL BERKEMEIER: Well it’s a totally different development from that which was the prize winning competition entry. And well there’s a lot more buildings that’s going to go up. And the public parklands are very much subservient to the interests of the development itself and the buildings.

JENNIFER MACEY: There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not the cruise ship terminal should be there, how high the buildings are there. What do you make of that considering it is such a significant site for Sydney?

PAUL BERKEMEIER: Well unfortunately everything is really being given away. The public interest is being given away to maximise the return for the development itself, both to the developer and to the government.

So things like the cruise ship terminal which are a valuable piece of public infrastructure are being moved away because they would occupy space otherwise that could be used for development.

JENNIFER MACEY: Last week the National Trust put forward an alternative design plan which would see the cruise passenger terminal kept on the site rather than moving to another part of the harbour.

The trust’s spokesman Scott Woodcock says this design is more in line with the maritime heritage values of the former wharf.

SCOTT WOODCOCK: The best way to interpret the rich and diverse maritime heritage at Millers Point is to retain the cruise ships at Barangaroo.

And Millers Point offers the ideal location for a cruise ship berth. It’s a secure location, probably the most secure location west of the Harbour Bridge. And it’s within 750 metres of the overseas passenger terminal, so within walking distance of The Rocks and light rail will go right to the back door.

JENNIFER MACEY: Architect Paul Berkemeier says he’s lost hope that the site will be subject to significant changes.

PAUL BERKEMEIER: The decisions made to have the single proponent, the single developer, the fact that the development, the increase in the quantum of development has gone up so radically is now, I think it’s locked in.

And I think inevitably it’ll all be fast tracked so that all the commitments are there irreversible before the next state election.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Paul Berkemeier whose architecture firm won the initial design competition for Barangaroo.

Jennifer Macey reporting


163 Castlereagh Street's new “pedestrian street”

17 May

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) was awarded this landmark project following a ‘Design Excellence Competition’. In recognition of the specificity of the site and its inherent attributes, the design comprises a carefully articulated assembly of elements (groundplane, streetwalls, tower elements and landscape) to create a unique architectural form. The development gathers a significant sequence of refurbished heritage buildings, public open space and streetscapes into a cohesive environment. It incorporates an iconic roof feature that will capture and break light to provide a dramatic addition and everchanging expression to the city skyline. A key component is the enhancement of the public domain and provision of a new “pedestrian street” which will provide a valuable mid-block city link and connections to address the wider city environs.
This 5 Green Star sustainable 42-storey development provides in excess of 72,000sqm of premium grade office space, retail and basement car parking, and accordingly will be an important addition to the CBD.

The Pitt Street entry to the new “pedestrian street”

The Castlereagh side, showing the incorporation of heritage buildings.

Entering the site from the Castlereagh side.

The transition of levels in the interior space.

Images copyright-

The latest big thing- Grocon's 163 Castlereagh St

17 May

Work has just started on the demolition and excavation of the new 163 Castlereagh St tower to be built by Grocon (demolition Metropolitan).
The office tower will be 46story, 188m and will have an interesting public area at ground level. A number of heritage buildings are being refurbished for the site and one is being demolished (Angus and Son, as we speak).

The proposed Pitt Street facade. Architects for the project are Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT).

ANZ aims high in Martin Place exodus
Robert Harley and Ben Wilmot. Copyright AFR 25.09.08

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is planning to move its Sydney headquarters off
Martin Place and into a new $900 million tower to be built by Sydney private developer John Boyd
Properties and aggressive UK construction giant Laing O’Rourke in the city’s mid-town precinct.
The ANZ, which is developing a huge campus-style headquarters in Melbourne’s Docklands, has
been examining the options for a shift from its ageing 20 Martin Place headquarters for several

The ANZ is believed to have given in principal approval yesterday to the shift from Martin Place to
163 Castlereagh Street, though neither the bank nor the developers would comment.

The move will reinforce the banking industry’s exit from Martin Place. And it is a coup for John Boyd
Properties and Laing O’Rourke at a time when the global financial crisis has curtailed the leasing
activity of many major corporations.

The 163 Castlereagh Street site covers almost half a hectare of older city buildings opposite the new
Sydney Hilton and close to Town Hall Station in a fast improving sector of the city.

The Boyd proposal for a three-sided, 44-storey tower with a lettable area of 57,000 square metres is
one of the largest in Sydney. The developer will target a five-star Green Star environmental rating,
but the building would have the capacity to move to six-star.

ANZ is expected to lease around 27,000 sq m in the tower, which could be completed by the end of

The bank’s move into the tower will also be crucial in the slow Sydney development market.
Relatively few financial services companies are looking for space in the wake of the market

In recent years, a number of the ANZ’s rivals have moved away from Martin Place.
Westpac shifted its headquarters from 60 Martin Place in Sydney to the purpose-built Westpac Place
in Sydney’s Kent Street.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has no plans to shift its headquarters from 48 Martin Place but
it will relinquish leased properties around the city after precommitting to the $560 million Darling
Walk development at Darling Harbour, being developed in a 50:50 joint venture with the Lend

Lease-managed Australian Prime Property Fund and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s Australian
arm, Harina. CBA has already taken about 51,000 sq m in Tower One of the Darling Park complex.
Laing O’Rourke started operating in Australia in 2004 and expanded with the purchase of
construction and services company Barclay Mowlem in 2006. It has since picked up major office
projects in Brisbane from Dexus Property Group and APH Capital Partners, as well infrastructure work
such as the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway, but the Sydney tower will be one of its most ambitious

Laing O’Rourke’s recently established Explore Development Funds Management is expected to
partner with Mr Boyd’s private group in developing the project in the first major deal to emerge from
the business.

Explore manages a closed-end, opportunistic development fund that is designed to work with the
group’s existing property development business and leverage third-party capital into development

Explore’s commitment is likely to assist in putting together a financing package – a key element in the
tower proceeding.

The progress of the Boyd site is being closely watched by the group’s rivals.


· The 163 Castlereagh Street site covers almost half a hectare.
· The plan is to build a 44-storey tower with a lettable area of 57,000 square metres.