Harry Seidler’s iconic MLC Centre in Martin Place is the subject of a $170 million overhaul, with Dexus and Woods Bagot working to revive the building in a manner similar to Seidler’s initial designs.

A press conference on Wednesday unveiled plans by the property developer to rebrand the building as 25 Martin Place, which upon completion will play host to a multitude of high fashion, dining and cultural spaces. The 67 level office tower is also receiving a facelift, with much of the 70,000sqm space taken up by commercial entities well before completion.

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The b& w photo of MLC plaza dates to August 1978 - photo by Max Dupain (copyright Lendlease.

The revival of the building, along with the re-opening of the Sydney Royal Theatre, will enliven the civic heart of Sydney, and is in line with City of Sydney’s desire to create a 24 hour economy for the harbour city.

“Working with Harry Seidler and Associates, architect Woods Bagot has built on Harry Seidler’s original design principles to deliver a contemporary precinct and revitalised public spaces for Sydney’s CBD.." says a statement from Dexus.

The restoration of the building — constructed in 1978 — will bring Seidler’s principles into the 21st century, with both practice and property developer working to ensure that any alterations made to the existing MLC Centre will only further Seidler’s original vision of a modernist curvilinear structure consisting of concrete and glass.

Much of the original glazing and aggregate panels will be repaired and restored, with Woods Bagot stripping away pieces from a 1990s renovation that struggled to capture much of Seidler’s vision. A Dexus representative says the recent heritage listing of the building has not altered the design process in any form, with Woods Bagot’s acknowledgement of Seidler’s ideas ensuring the building’s character and modernist grandeur remaining very much intact.

On completion, it is estimated 25 Martin Place will generate over 300 new retail, hospitality, and theatre jobs and attract tens of thousands of locals and tourists to the centre of Sydney daily.

Minister for Jobs, Investment Tourism and Western Sydney, The Hon Stuart Ayres MP says the building is part of the NSW Government’s desire to return Sydney to its former glory as a bustling city both day and night. 

“The NSW Government is investing heavily in initiatives which breathe new life into this part of the city centre and 25 Martin Place is the perfect complement to the soon to be reopened Theatre Royal and the neighbouring Metro Station currently under construction. As well as creating hundreds of quality job opportunities, it will improve the quality of the work day for so many of us who will eat and shop here each week.”

25 Martin Place will deliver approximately 6,000 square metres of new and improved retail space across four levels, offering over 50 different retailer experiences, while being supported by the existing office tower. The project includes a new luxury and premium retail on Castlereagh and King Streets, a new plaza food and beverage precinct fronting onto Martin Place and improved connectivity for workers and visitors with a new commercial tower entrance from Castlereagh Street.

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City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore says 25 Martin Place is truly a one stop shop for city goers, thanks to the eclectic range of retail, dining and entertainment offerings afforded by the project. 

“The word 'iconic' is often overused, but in this case the word is justified. Seidler’s distinctive 25 Martin Place has been a Sydney landmark since the 1970s and now, after extensive renovation, will re-open as a symbol of our city's renewal. The refurbishment of the 1,100 seat theatre is especially welcome, with the beautiful new transparent foyer beckoning passers-by to step in from King Street. 25 Martin Place has something to offer shoppers, tourists, diners, office workers and theatre goers – a wonderful revival that will help keep our city's heart beating as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic.”

25 martin place render

The first of the new retailers will open their doors later this year with the arrival of New Zealand Restaurant Good Group’s Botswana Butchery, Nour Group’s Aalia and Japanese restaurant, Kazan. Valentino will present a luxury fashion experience spanning two levels across 765 square metres on the corner of Castlereagh and King Streets. The re-opening of the Royal Theatre is due to coincide with the opening of the various retail precincts, with the Australian premiere of the Alanis Morrissette-inspired Jagged Little Pill the first show due to be played at the theatre. 

The first stage of 25 Martin Place is due to be opened later this year. For more information, click here.