88 George, photograph by Brett Boardman
This project involved the careful contemporary refurbishment of a significant State heritage listed building at 88 George. The new works consists of three parts: a new foyer to the office building; internal refurbishment works to the office levels; and the redesign of an external public space, with both sustainability and heritage considerations a high priority in the design solution.
The foyer was conceived as a bridge that leaves George Street to connect with building core – a bridge of concrete linking the exterior street to the interior, acknowledging its role as a new element and also its public nature.
Externally, an existing triangular remnant of land was transformed into a public space that was understood as part of the complex cut landscapes characteristic of The Rocks. This public space sits at the intersection of George Street and Hickson Road where large level changes and traffic have combined to isolate the space. An analysis of the existing topography and potential connections led to a morphing exercise such that the various levels bounding the site were reconnected via this new public space. Our proposal commenced in a placed based mapping process taking into account the key site axes and views. These spatial connections recast the site in relation to its immediate context and the greater city. Overlaid with the place analysis was another layer of functional mapping which together then fused into a singular object – a sculpted concrete podium – which addresses connectivity, accessibility and a greater political agenda to address the place to the public and not just to the adjacent tenancy. This solid block of base material was carved to effect seating, ramps and level changes. Given the impact of the access ramps and tenancy seating, this fusing of numerous parameters into a singular sculpted piece resulted in a focus on the spatial quality rather than the incursions of various pragmatic requirements.
A canopy sits in the north-east corner of the space which has similarly evolved from a mapping of environmental and tenant requirements. The scuplted base was complemented by an array of metal elements - the canopy completes the ensemble, with the form generated from a lyrical investigation of roof forms and industrial elements found qithin The Rocks.
In December 2007, 86-88 George Street was acknowledged by the Green Building Council as the first State heritage listed building to be awarded a 5 star Green Star office design rating.