More than a year ago, owners of the IMAX Theatre in Darling Harbour announced they wanted to replace the building with a new office tower more than double its current height.

Developers Grocon and Markham Corporation lodged a Development Application (DA) with NSW Planning & Infrastructure for the redevelopment of the Sydney IMAX back in July 2012.

‘The Ribbon’ will be a new office, retail and entertainment complex, said to be like no other in Australia. It will have a 100m north-facing Darling Harbour frontage, ground-breaking green technology and premium services designed entirely with the end-user in mind.

Designed by HASSELL and dubbed ‘The Ribbon’ because of its form, which can be likened to ribbons emerging from its urban context – the expressways, the Harbour and the public spaces around it.

Markham Corporation managing director James Markham said at the time, “A site like this only comes along once in a lifetime. It demands a wonderful, inspiring design and we cannot afford to miss the opportunity it presents.”

Grocon NSW general manager Chris Carolan said at the time, “It is innovative in every way and we believe it could become an admired Sydney landmark in this vibrant, revitalised and growing precinct. ‘The Ribbon has been designed to speak to the future and capture the imagination of the world.”

The orginal design for The Ribbon redevelopment, designed by HASSELL. Image: Grocon.

But now, owners have re-threaded their designs.

It will now be a 20-storey building standing between the two expressways, soaring to 93.5m at its tallest point – almost three times IMAX’s current 36.3m height.

This new design is seven metres higher than the original design, but is also lower in parts – down to 26 metres, preventing any additional overshadowing of the nearby playground in Darling Quarter.

“Sydney deserves a distinctive design like this. The Ribbon personifies the liveliness and sophistication of modern Sydney in a way that speaks directly to contemporary landmarks like Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Shard in London,” Carolan says.

 “We worked with Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and some other stakeholders to come up with a design collectively we felt was more appropriate for Darling Harbour and the future of what’s destined with the future convention and exhibition centre,” he says.

The updated design for The Ribbon. Image:

The updated proposal includes 41,470sqm of office space and 7300sqm for retail, a function centre and entertainment space, including the IMAX cinema.

It is expected to take three years to build.