Construction has commenced at 32 Smith Street, Parramatta, on a sculptural, translucent office tower designed by Fender Katsalidis.

The site for this project is one block from the $1.2 billion Riverbank cultural and entertainment precinct, the proposed home for the Powerhouse Museum.

The Fender Katsalidis design gracefully opens up the site’s ground level to the public with a set-back podium and two softly rounded, pebble-like forms that encourage pedestrian usage.

“We recognised the way pedestrians currently move around the site, which is on Parramatta’s primary north–south axis, and wanted to both open up the corner and provide a strong visual connection to the river,” says Fender Katsalidis director Mark Curzon.

“The pedestrian flow-lines began to shape the podium into soft, pebble-like forms. These open up the river vista and create an impressive north-facing urban ‘room’, an open-air gathering space given shelter and shade by the building’s main tower form.”

Rising above this ground level is a glass-walled design that will create what the architect says is the most translucent building in Parramatta. 

“The tower is simple in form and has been shaped as a building in the round, with its curved pebble form reducing glare and wind to create a friendly sculptural tower,” says Curzon

The innovative design elevates car parking 12 metres above ground, to a full-height storey that could easily be converted in the future to commercial occupation.

Immediately above the car parking is an “oasis level”, an outdoor terrace that provides tenants with the opportunity to enjoy Parramatta River views. This important level provides a waist line to the building that references the existing scale of the street wall and announces the base of the tower.

Sydney’s ‘second CBD’

The $2 billion Parramatta Square, the largest urban renewal project in the state, is providing new chambers for Parramatta City Council, a public library and a vertical campus for Western Sydney University. Meanwhile, other developers are going ahead with major commercial and residential projects, including one that would restore the historic 700-seat Roxy Theatre

"Parramatta is currently undergoing a marvellous urban renewal and it's notable for the quality of design on a number of significant cultural and commercial projects," says Curzon.

"We are extremely proud of this project and believe it makes a significant contribution to the design-led renewal of Parramatta. Both the City of Parramatta and the NSW Government are driving this with a strong vision for the city to become a world-class business, arts and education centre with excellent design underpinning the emerging precinct."