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    Ian McKay's Calidad building heritage listed despite being just 40 years 'young'

    Geraldine Chua

    The City of Sydney has heritage listed a two-storey commercial office building in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo despite it being just 40 years ‘young’. 

    According to the City, the 1974 Calidad building is one of the few remaining intact examples of the ‘Sydney School’ architectural movement, whose pioneers included its award-winning architect Ian McKay.

    Commonly described as ‘anti-urban’, buildings of the Sydney School were frequently built on steep slopes or hidden from view in bushlands. The Calidad, for instance, sits atop one of Sydney’s most dramatic sandstone escarpments, peering down onto McElone Street below. 

    The Sydney School is a loose term that groups a number of Australian architects who were reacting against international modernism, and whose designs were strongly influenced by the natural environment of the sites they were working on.

    “Like many in the Sydney School, Ian McKay was influenced by the ‘organic’ style of internationally-acclaimed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, but the architecture McKay produced is uniquely adapted to the dramatic rock formations and vegetation of the NSW landscape,” said Graham Jahn, the City’s Director of Planning.

    The Calidad, which utilises local natural building materials to create bold geometric forms and excellent natural lighting and ventilation, is part of a larger site, 153-165 Brougham Street. Some buildings on this site have already been individually heritage listed, such as a pair of Victorian terraces and Telford Lodge, a colonial-era villa. 

    The heritage listing of McKay’s Calidad includes interior and exterior features, as well as the outside courtyard, which the building shares with the other listed buildings on the site. 

    “The Calidad is an important example of early sustainable architecture in Sydney, and I’m pleased the City is leading the charge to conserve significant local buildings for everyone,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said. 

    “Despite growing awareness about the value of protecting modern architecture, it is still uncommon to heritage list recent buildings like the Calidad building in Woolloomooloo.”

    Another heritage listed Sydney School building is St John’s Village, a retirement home in Glebe which won the 1964 Sulman Medal for architects Hely Bell and Horne. 

    The City of Sydney has also recently completed an Industrial and Warehouse Buildings Heritage Study, which recommends the heritage listing of 63 other industrial places and two precincts of industrial and warehouse buildings. 

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