Perched on top of Sydney’s The Star casino complex, a gem-shaped structure is enveloped by a triangulated skeletal structural frame which, in turn, is wrapped in a translucent white glass veil.

This veil is patterned with elongated triangular shards that replicate the underlying frame, and respond to the chamfered forms of the gemstone. To inject even more complexity, the interstitial space behind the wrapping is illuminated by lights that shift and change through the night, a friendly wave to the city it overlooks; a nod of approval to the mood of the space within.

The name of this $100 million building in Sydney’s Pyrmont precinct is the Star Events Centre, a 3,000 seat facility that provides a medium sized but flexible entertainment and function venue. Its design aesthetic, delivered by Fitzpatrick + Partners, is driven both by its functions, as well as the structure of the building.

Being located atop the existing casino had created limiting points for structural anchoring, and the team, which involved Brookfield Multiplex, ICPM and engineers Taylor Thomson Whitting, responded with an initial steel box truss solution.

Further investigation of loads and efficiencies led to the exploration of faceted planes and chamfered forms, which resulted in the final triangulated skeletal structural frame.

Image: Taylor Thomson Whitting

However, the challenges did not stop there, and having to construct within a 24 hour live gaming environment and tight urban site meant that an integrated architectural and structural process was of utmost importance. Close cooperation and deft planning – elements the team quickly realised were necessary – therefore allowed for the exploration of the highly tectonic model and concomitant design and framework philosophy.

“The honest expression of the skeletal frame and skin led to a thematic approach to the majority of the design,” explained the design team.

“Efficiency and repetitiveness replaced superficiality and the decorative, prefabrication and pre-assembly were preferred where possible over bespoke detailing. Materials had to perform duplicate and triplicate roles, such as acoustic, thermal and visual performance.

“This resulted in a cost effective design with an efficiently programmed build time that has minimal ongoing costs and maintenance requirements.”

Image: The Star

Structurally, the building is a braced steel frame supported on eight existing columns, and two new columns positioned between two large existing post-tensioned transfer beams. It encloses 2,400sqm altogether, with 16 metres of clear internal height housing three suspended floors.

The internal floor structure hangs from an external ring truss which transfers back to the primary columns.

The innovative use of the lightweight steel frame, fabricated by S & L Steel, Cullen Steel, Sebastian Steel and Pacific Steel, meant works could be carried out immediately adjacent to, and over, the operational casino. Site bolting was utilised for the connection of prefabrication elements across the site, reducing onsite welding to a minimum.

In turn, this has minimised disruption and costs on a constrained site. Extensive use of 3D modelling to coordinate changes also lifted efficiency, reduced risks and improved safety.

The Events Centre is the third and final stage of the three year $870 million The Star redevelopment in Sydney. It recently won the Buildings – Large Project category at the 2014 Australian Steel Institute Steel Excellence Awards.

Project team

Client: Echo Entertainment

Engineer: Taylor Thomson Whitting

Architect: fitzpatrick+partners

Steel Fabricators: S&L Steel, Cullen Steel, Pacific Steel, Sebastian

Builder: Brookfield Multiplex

Steel Detailer: Elmasry Steel Design & Detailing

Coatings: Giovenco Industries, Industrial Galvanizers

Steel Supply: Southern Steel, BlueScope, OneSteel

Structural Steel Project Management: ICMP Steel Structures