A JPW refurbishment of a 1928-built Beaux-Arts revivalist building in Sydney has won the top prize for Commercial Architecture at the 2015 National Architecture Awards, beating a formidable field of projects from across the nation to take the Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture.
JPW’s repurposing of the old Commonwealth Bank Headquarters at 50 Martin Place pipped HDR Rice Daubney’s GPT Group’s Wollongong Central project and the Equestrian Centre, Merricks by Seth Stein Architects in association with Watson Architecture + Design who received an Architecture Award and a commendation respectively.
The jury highlights the technical precision and graceful articulation of the JPW refurbishment as key to the firm’s success in creating a state-of-the-art, sustainable and historically-sensitive new headquarters for the Macquarie Bank.
They say the project is an exemplar of how collaborative teams can push the boundaries of commercially driven architecture and inspire those who reside and work within it.
View the full list of winning projects from the 2015 National Architecture Awards here.
Read the full jury citation for 50 Martin Place by JPW and see the other awarded projects in the Commercial Architecture category below:
Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture – 50 Martin Place by JPW (NSW)
Photography by Peter Bennetts
Jury Citation: At 50 Martin Place, the jury was unanimous in its praise of the way in which the architects masterfully interpreted the client’s contemporary ‘not lavish but intelligent brief’. They drew on innovative engineering, clever planning, environmentally sensitive insertions, simple finishes and intricately worked bespoke detail and design solutions to do so. From the outset, this project reinstated respectful and productive life in the Beaux-Arts revivalist building. This was partly inspired and then driven by the innovative nature of the original 1928 building, with its large side-core floor plates, central atrium and diminishing structural member sizes as the building rose in height.
The project shows that contemporary workplaces within a heritage building can successfully coexist and enhance one another. The architects removed a 1980s refurbishment, stripped the interior back to its original handsome proportions and refreshed every floor with the latest in contemporary workplace design. They then opened up and widened the atrium to reveal the fabric and form of the original building, and inserted the world’s first glass cylindrical lifts to provide a vertical and visual tour of the workings of Macquarie Bank. Finally, they added further executive and function floors within a glass-shingled dome at the very top. This elliptical dome is an engineering feat and gives neighbouring highrise buildings an elegant fifth elevation. Outdoor terraces provide additional rooftop amenity, while the building’s original classically styled service structures have been retained within.
The technical precision and graceful articulation of the new addition reinforce the design choice of a lightweight intervention and this is further emphasised by the atrium’s light-filled heart and porous visual connections across each floor. This is a vital workplace for a global financial company. With a 6-star Green Star rating for the largest heritage-listed commercial building in Australia, 50 Martin Place also sets a new benchmark. The project is an exemplar of how collaborative teams can push the boundaries of commercially driven architecture and inspire those who reside and work within it. The result is a masterful example of the best in sensitive and intelligent building addition, sophisticated engineering for aesthetics and sustainability, clever adaptive re-use and restoration, innovative workplace design and, most importantly, how to create a relevant legacy to complement great commercial architecture of the past.
Photography by Lisbeth Grosmann