The original building, a five storey - four bay warehouse with an attached single bay of four stories of office space. The design is a 'Romantic composition in polychrome brick and sandstone capped by picturesque Dutch gables'. The four bays of warehouse are structurally defined as separate areas. Evidence uncovered on the ground, second, third and four floor indicates that the four warehouse bays were linked by a single arched opening, except Bays 4 and 5 which had two openings. The building is described in the Sydney Morning Herald on the date of opening, 25 July 1885, as:
'The new buildings are five storeys high, the first storey being of stone and the remaining ones of brick. Among the offices is a spacious board room, available for public meetings of the share-holders. The lowest floor of offices, level with the wharves, and entered there from, comprises the shipping office, marine superintendents office. the traffic superintendent's office and an apartment for the reception of Carter's tickets and general wharf business'. (Tropman 1990: 8-9)
The timber framed Directory Board of the former Commonwealth Government tenants in the AS&N Co Building is also of heritage significance. It comprises a shallow box made of timber, with side hinged central opening glass doors, and is headed in gold lettering "Australian Government Offices 1950-1989: Directory Commonwealth Offices". (from Archaeology: 1883 warehouse complex. Former offices of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company at northern end.; Built By: 1802)
Style: Pre Federation Anglo Dutch; Storeys: Four; Facade: Stone and polychrome brick facade including copper roofed bay and ornate stone capped gable ends.; Internal Walls: Original set plaster and rendered brick walls with Victorian colour (Bay 1); Lathe and plaster walls (Bay 1); Roof Cladding: Slate; Internal Structure: Original timber post and beam construction with cast iron capitals to the columns (Bays 2-5); Floor Frame: Timber floor; Ceilings: Barrel vaulted brick ceiling (Bay 1); Stairs: Timber staircases and balustrades; Fire Stairs: Bay 2-5- (1949-50); Bay 1- Fire stair to exterior of building (1961) & Steel fire doors c1950 and original hardware.; Sprinkler System: Some sprinkler heads date back to 1929 , some of the original cast iron pipework is still intact.
(from Archaeology: The ASN building was one of the earliest in Sydney to be fitted with a water sprinkler system to combat fire (c1894), and is possibly the earliest surviving in Sydney. Remains of hoist pulleys and other features of the warehouse were also noted.)
In 1892-94 the water tower was constructed. As Wardell was alive at this time it is possible that Wardell or Vernon designed the tower. (Tropman 1990: 9). In the 1950s the building was converted to offices which introduced openings through the load bearing walls, and introduced materials such as plywood and fibrous plaster to create offices, concealing the structure. Both the early water tower to Bay 3 (1892-94) and the 1950s lift to Bay 4 additions involved some structural alterations to the fabric.
(Tropman 1990: 8-14, 39)
In 1990 Bay 5 of the building was adapted for use as part of The Story of Sydney. This use ceased in 1991. In 1992-3, the building was restored to its original 1880s appearance both inside and out, including the reinstatement of the large timber windows and doors and removal of the 1950s office partitions, at a total cost of $5.7m. (SCRA Annual Reports 1992: 32 & 1993: 21-22)
Archaeology Assessment Condition: Mostly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Warehouses cut into hill slope from Circular Quay West. Basements below George Street / Hickson Road level. Investigation: Industrial survey. The building contains significant original fabric.
The land was originally leased to John Baugham by acting Governor Grose in 1794. Baugham sold the lease to Robert Campbell in 1798, who erected Sydney's first private wharf in 1800. Campbell then erected Wharf House behind the wharf as a home for himself and his wife Sophia in 1802. The site continued to be used by the Campbell family until 1876, when the ASN Co acquired part of Robert Campbell's grant. In 1884, construction started on the ASN Co Building which was opened in 1885. It was designed by William Wilkinson Wardell, who had formed a partnership with WL Vernon in 1884. It is an excellent example of his style.
The Australasian Steam Navigation Company was formed from the Hunter River Steamship Company in 1851 to appeal to a wider market and expand their services. The company approved free or assisted passages for worthy causes, these included Caroline Chisholm going to Moreton Bay to obtain employment for immigrant women and Dr Leichhardt also going to Moreton Bay for an expedition in Queensland, and they shipped plants and specimens for the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne for free.
In 1887, the government purchased the land between Campbells Stores and Sydney Cove, and demolished all buildings on the site. Later that year the Crown acquired the ASN Co building to be administered by the Sydney Harbour Trust. The company moved out of the building in 1889. In 1890, it was being used as Government Ordnance Stores and by 1892 a number of tenants were in the building. In 1906, the building was handed over to the Department of Defence. Since 1950, it has been occupied by the Australian Commonwealth Offices, when conversions by the Department of Works and Housing made the building suitable for office use. In 1989 the ASN Co building was acquired by the SCRA.
In 1990, Bay 5 of the building was adapted for use, together with the Mariners' Church, for The Story of Sydney, an exhibition of the foundation and development of Sydney. This use ceased in 1991. In 1991-92, the building was restored to its original 1880s appearance both inside and out, and following that has been leased for galleries facing George Street, retail on Circular Quay West and commercial uses on the upper floors. (SCRA Annual Reports 1990-1993)
Previously, the address of the ASN Co Building was 5-7 Hickson Road, but was renumbered to 1-3. The Park Hyatt Hotel is numbered 7 Hickson Road.