Sydneysiders have been given a sneak peek at one of the tallest retained heritage façades in the world as Brookfield Properties begins to unveil its revamp of the historic Shell House building as part of its $2 billion Brookfield Place Sydney development.
For two years, the building’s iconic 400-tonne clock tower was wrapped in scaffold and temporarily supported by over 1,400 tonnes of structural steel to enable Multiplex to demolish the existing floors and excavate the sandstone beneath to create a new basement for the Shell House building. This occurred while simultaneously restoring the clock tower and leaving it suspended above the live construction site.
Positioned on the corner of Carrington and Margaret Streets, Shell House is now fully integrated into the rising Brookfield Place Sydney project.
With basement works complete and all 10 levels of concrete flooring poured, fit-out works are currently underway to accommodate NAB’s new Sydney headquarters in 2021.
NAB’s Shell House accommodation will merge seamlessly with the new 27-storey Premium Grade commercial tower being built as part of the Brookfield Place Sydney project and will feature an eye-catching interconnected atrium that celebrates the nexus of old and new, whilst providing the bank with floorplates of 3,200 square metres.
Shell House is historically significant as the only surviving interwar commercial palazzo style building in Sydney clad with glazed terracotta ‘faience’ blocks.
Standing at 65.5 metres high, Shell House’s façade is also one of the tallest retained heritage façades in the world.
Prior to redevelopment, Shell House was home to the Menzies Hotel, with its outdated 1970s interiors now being transformed into a contemporary office building designed by architects MAKE and Architectus with the new NAB fitout by Woods Bagot.
The complex transformation will result in the complete restoration of Shell House’s heritage façade with the impressive street-level presence returned to its former opulence.
On its rooftop, Shell House will also accommodate a new premium food and beverage experience which is set to become a popular destination in the CBD.
Carl Schibrowski, Executive Vice President and Co-Head, Brookfield Properties, detailed that when Shell House was built back in the 1930s, establishing a worldwide corporate office was seen as a symbol of commercial confidence in Sydney.
“Almost 100 years later we are unveiling the restored Shell House at a time when economic sentiment is also improving and the revitalisation of the Wynyard precinct can again be viewed as a symbol of confidence in our city, along with the recent delivery of the Light Rail network and the pedestrianisation of George Street,” he said.
“Brookfield Place Sydney is a transformational, city-changing project and will deliver outstanding public benefits, including a new transit hall and urban room as a grand new entry point to the historic Wynyard Station.”
David Ghannoum, Regional Managing Director of Multiplex New South Wales, added that the company is proud to restore the historic CBD icon to its former glory.
“The restoration works have been meticulous and we have collaborated with several heritage specialists to restore the Clock Tower, including repairing or replacing thousands of faience or glazed terracotta blocks, which are exclusively manufactured in the United States and shipped to Australia,” Mr Ghannoum shared.
A brief site history
The Shell House site has a rich history and was most recently a part of the former Menzies Hotel.
Originally developed in 1856 as a four-level building, an additional wing was created in 1863 fronting Wynyard Lane.
The site has deep roots in hospitality having operated as Cohen’s Family Hotel during this time and later becoming Pfahlert’s Hotel in the 1870s after a change in the tenancy.
The hotel was demolished in the 1930s and Shell House was then built in 1936.
It was the fifth building erected by Shell Oil Company in an Australian capital city but considered to be one of its finest.
Shell House featured an interwar palazzo façade and clock tower with a clock mechanism imported from England.
The clock tower quickly became a landmark in the Sydney CBD and will soon be returned in all its splendour as the signature feature of the building.
About Brookfield Place Sydney
Brookfield Place Sydney is set to transform Wynyard into a world-class urban precinct in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
The project’s centrepiece is a 27-level PCA Premium Grade commercial tower at 10 Carrington Street with a total net lettable area of 59,000 square metres, offering world-class facilities, amenities and finishes to set a new standard in workplace design.
The development includes the restoration of Shell House and 285 George Street.
It will also deliver 6,000 square metres of high-end retail, a revitalised Wynyard Lane and a major upgrade to Wynyard Station’s George Street entrance, connecting to a grand transit hall and public concourse.