Sydney Tower, the flagship of the Sydney skyline, celebrated its 40th birthday last Saturday. Colloquially known as Centrepoint Tower, the structure has served a number of purposes since its inception, and remains a cultural landmark for Sydneysiders and tourists alike.
Designed by Crone Architects (known then as Donald Crone and Associates) in 1968, the tower took approximately 13 years to build, opening to the public on September 25 1981m with a budget of just $36 million. The tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere for a number of years after its completion, Sydney Tower, as it is known today, is the second largest building in Australia, behind Q1 on the Gold Coast.
Underlining its monolithic presence, the structure can be seen from a number of distant locations, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and a number of various lookouts on the outskirts of the harbour city.
The building itself is held up by a shaft that is just seven metres in diameter. Made up of 46 barrel units, each piece weighs approximately 27 tonnes. These units were prefabricated and brought onto the site in seven pieces, and then welded together. Once the first three sections were in place, a gantry crane was erected to hoist the remaining 43 barrel units.
The building sways in heavy winds, with a number of cables giving the building stability that wrap around the building like spokes inside a bicycle wheel. A water tank, placed on the roof, also increases the tower’s stability. Despite the movement felt underfoot, the building is regarded as one of the safest in the world, and is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.
Greg Crone, the son of Sydney Tower designer Donald Crone who helped his father work on the building in the final years of designing, says the building was created in a bid to bring people back to the Sydney CBD.
“People were no longer coming into the city to shop so AMP, which owned the site, were going to develop a shopping centre where Centrepoint Tower is today but they were also looking for mechanisms or ways to attract people back into the centre of the city and that’s what this tower was designed to do,” he says in an interview with ABC Radio.
Ultimately, Crone and AMP were able to achieve their goal of bringing people back to the city, and then some. Today, under the ownership of Westfield Group, Sydney Tower plays host to roughly 1.5 million visitors year on year. With a number of hospitality offerings, as well as the Sydney Tower Skywalk and the views the tower provides of the city itself, the tower remains much loved by the city and its visitors.