Commonwealth Bank Including Interiors and Sculptural Relief And Sculpture | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Commonwealth Bank Including Interiors and Sculptural Relief And Sculpture

Item details

Name of item: Commonwealth Bank Including Interiors and Sculptural Relief And Sculpture
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8722214811249 Long: 151.205434113703
Primary address: 423-427 George Street (Corner of Market Street), Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
423-427 George Street (Corner of Market Street)SydneySydney  Primary Address
46-48 Market StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Commonwealth Bank, located on George, Market and York Streets, is a twelve storey tower of Post War International Style. The building has historic significance as the first major building to be completed in Sydney following the end of the Second World War. The building has aesthetic significance for its well resolved facade and for its coordinated program of public art. It is important as part of a body of work produced by the Commonwealth Department of Works and Housing. The building's planning which included three separate banking chambers, one on the lower ground , one on the ground and another on the first floor linked by escalators was unique for its time. The building has scientific significance as the earliest intact curtain wall in the Sydney CBD and for the largest single concrete beam poured for a commercial building of its time. The building has scientific significance for the innovative distribution of air through perforated metal ceiling tiles giving complete air distribution through twin hot and cold ducts, mixed at the point of distribution.
Date significance updated: 09 Jan 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Commonwealth Department of Works
Builder/Maker: Hutcherson Brothers Pty Ltd (below ground) Concrete Construction Pty Ltd (above ground)
Construction years: 1954-1956
Physical description: The building is bounded by George, Market and York Streets. The south elevation is dominated by a panel of aluminium curtain walling, seventeen panels wide by ten storeys high, set proud of the sandstone facade. The two storey base has been reclad in granite and new frameless glazing. The original Dadswell relief has been retained. The west elevation is clad in stone with an integral stone relief and small rectangular windows. The east elevation, also clad in stone, contains asymmetrically positioned horizontal windows. The facade steps back at the plant room. The original podium, which is refaced in granite, has retained the Dadswell sculpture but the re-entrant corner between the south and east elevations has been refaced and modified with a curved surround. Internally the building has been modified with some remnants of finishes such as the terrazzo stairs, the copper roof at level thirteen, the terrazzo sills and bathrooms remaining.

to the original cafeteria at level twelve, and the green terrazzo and tapestry tiled bathroom and original ceiling tiles at level eleven.
Category:Individual Building. Style:Post-War International. Storeys:12 above ground plus 3 basement. Facade:Aluminium curtain wall (Market) Sandstone and new granite (York and George). Side/Rear Walls:Frameless Glazing (new), Sandstone. Internal Walls:Rendered Brick. Roof Cladding:Copper. Internal Structure:Reinf. conc. column and beam. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab. Roof:Reinf. conc. slab. Ceilings:Susp. plasterboard. Stairs:2. Fire Stairs:2. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:3 plus 1 (bullion room and staff). AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general the building retains its original appearance but the original fabric has been replaced with detracting finishes at ground level. Internally the building has been remodelled with only remnants of fabric such as the terrazzo stairs, the copper roof at level thirteen, the terrazzo sills and bathrooms remaining. Intrusive Elements:The granite cladding and the frameless glazing to the ground and first floors. The windows to both east and west elevations and the aluminium and glass curtain wall to the south façade (Market St) are in a deteriorated condition and will require complete replacement within the next 10 years (date of comment: 2007), see Review of Heritage Listing report by Design 5, 2002 for detail.
Date condition updated:09 Jul 07
Modifications and dates: 1954-1956; interiors extensively remodelled 1980s including new fire stairs 1987, new signage and upgrading of services including airconditioning. The banking chamber on the lower ground floor was refurbished 1988; 1989 the building was refurbished and the external face of the 2-storey base was reclad in granite and frameless glazing. At the same time, the stepped building corner at George & Market Streets was altered to a curved surround at podium level, and the main stairs to George Street were removed. The building was refurbished internally in 1993, including alterations to partitions, suspended ceilings, tea room fitouts and refitting of fire doors and further supplementary work was undertaken in 1999.
Further information: High Significance:All the remaining intact fabric of the exterior including the Lewers and Dadswell sculptures. Low Significance:All the interiors. Except remnant original finishes.
Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Bank
Former use: Bank

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani )

The site of the bank was purchased in 1939 and plans drawn up for a nine storey building in 1941. However, building was deferred due to war. The bank reviewed the plans again after the war though in August 1949 the City Council notified the bank of their decision to widen Market Street, effectively reducing the overall width of the site. Subsequently the bank sold to the City Council a strip eight feet along Market Street from George to York Streets. The result was that new plans were drawn by the Commonwealth Department of Works for a twelve storey building accommodating the banking chamber over three floors; one on the lower ground, one, on the ground and another on the first floor linked together by escalators. The building design was typical of the aesthetics of the 1950's. Its twelve storey tower with three floors underground complied with the existing building height of one hundred and fifty feet. Construction to ground level was by Master Builders, Hutcherson Brothers Pty Ltd, and the remainder by Concrete Constructions Pty Ltd. In excavating, difficulties arose due to the Wynyard Town Hall underground railway line which passed below the site. Three concrete columns which extended through the railway tunnel walls to foundations some sixty feet below ground level were required. At the time of construction the building innovative for its air conditioning which was distributed through perforated metal ceiling tiles giving complete distribution over the entire floor, and had air distribution through twin ducts to each zone on each floor, one carrying hot the other cold, which were mixed at the points of distribution. Public art includes the sculpture and bas-relief by L. Dadswell, and sandstone panel by G. Lewers, both completed in 1956.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Commonwealth Bank Building has historic significance as the first major building to be completed in Sydney following the end of the second World War. Has historic significance locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This building has the earliest intact curtain wall in the Sydney CBD. The building possesses the largest single concrete beam poured for a commercial building. The building was innovative for the distribution of air through perforated metal ceiling tiles giving complete air distribution through twin hot and cold ducts, mixed at the point of distribution. Has aesthetic significance locally. Cultural:The Commonwealth Bank Building has aesthetic significance for its well resolved facade and for its coordinated program of public art. It is important as part of a body of work produced by the Commonwealth Department of Works and Housing. At the time of its construction the building was unique in its planning which included three separate banking chambers, one on the lower ground , one on the ground and another on the first floor liked together by escalators.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The building is representative of the post war aesthetics of commercial high rise buildings which used curtain wall facades and integrated public art.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

General: The overall form of the Commonwealth Bank should be retained and conserved. Finishes never intended for painting, such as the sandstone and the relief sculpture should remain unpainted and should continue to be appropriately maintained and conserved. Exterior: All remaining intact fabric on the external facades, such as the sandstone and the relief sculpture, should be retained and conserved. Future refurbishment should recover significance by the reinstatement of more appropriate finishes to the facade below the awning. As the original building has a well proportioned relationship between the projecting concrete frame and facade the addition of further floors should not be contemplated. Any future development should preserve the existing form, and aim for sympathetic replacement of deteriorated window and curtain walling materials in a manner designed to recover the original appearance of the façade. Future refurbishment/replacement of windows and aluminium and glass curtain walling should not enlarge door and window openings, and should use materials which match the appearance of existing materials. Encourage reinstatement of the original design of the building at Ground and First Floor levels, removing the intrisive cirved glazing, polished stainless steel and polished garnite caldding that was applied in the 1990s. Interior: As the general interiors have been extensively remodelled and there is little of significance remaining inside the building, further alterations may be carried out provided that future internal work does not compromise the facades of the building further. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I178114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Qantas House Conservation Plan Appendix of early Curtain Wall Buildings in Sydney
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenDesign 5 Architects200246-48 Market Street, Sydney (Commonwealth Bank Building) : review of heritage listing in Schedule 1 (Building and sites), Central Sydney Heritage Local Environmental Plan 2000
WrittenJennifer Taylor Post World War II Multistorey Office buildings Australia 1945-67
WrittenTara C. Cheevers, Senior Façade Engineer, Connell Mott MacDonald, Sydney Yesterday's Façade in Today's Environment

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2424182


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