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    New George Street hotel marries Gothic and Brutal neighbours with massing and materials

    Nathan Johnson

    Designing a new building that is sympathetic to its neighbours can be difficult at the best of times, as can be making additions to buildings that are heritage listed.

    Imagine then the challenge faced by PBD Architects who were tasked with designing a new building for a small site in Sydney’s Haymarket that has a Telstra equipment building for a neighbour on one side and a heritage-listed Venetian Gothic Revival-style library on the other.

    Adding an extra challenge was the fact that 746-750A George Street, Haymarket also came with a few heritage restraints of its own, making the task of injecting a sympathetic yet contemporary 50-metre hotel into the site a little harder for PBD again.

    PBD have proposed to demolish the existing 3-4 storey commercial buildings on the site to make way for a new 14-storey hotel with a three storey retail podium and an 11-storey tower element, fit with 127 rooms. The existing heritage façade on 750a George Street will remain and form part of the new podium façade while the rest of the building will be brand new, albeit not forgetting of the past.

    In a bid to mediate the issues associated with the adjoining buildings, PBD have turned to massing strategies and a material palette that suggest efforts to downplay the new addition and to create a light tower form above the heritage façade. 

    The tower will be set back 10 metres from George Street along the heritage façade and eight metres along the rest of the podium to reduce its scale and appearance and to create a landscaped sky terrace for occupant amenity on the podium roof.  

    PBD have also added a variety of “notches” to the tower form to again break up its scale and mass and added a cantilever above a 1.5m setback to the neighbouring Haymarket Library to provide additional relief to heritage item.

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    Arguably the most interesting new addition is the tower’s façade on its George Street elevation which will feature vertical timber screens tilted at a different angle to produce a vibrant exterior texture that also deconstructs the massing of the tower.

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    To the north and overlooking the library, the architects have created a pattern of precast concrete panels and treated metal cladding that they suggest is inspired by the pattern of stacked library bookshelves acknowledging the Haymarket Library next door.

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    Interestingly, PBD’s renders do show a very subdued presence of the neighbouring Telstra building, but you can hardly blame the architects for that one. There have been calls to knock down Sydney’s old brutalist-style buildings for some time now and, for some, the old Telstra exchange buildings dotted around the City and Metropolitan are near the top of that list.

    The Haymarket Library is expected to be relocated to Kengo Kuma-designed Darling Exchange.

    746-750A George Street is currently being assessed by the City of Sydney. 

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