Lendlease Appoints Foster+Partners To Design Sydney’s Tallest Office Tower

It has been a long road so far for Lendlease and their Circular Quay Precinct development, but recently the project has taken a major step.

Lendlease has selected architectural firm Foster + Partners to take point on progressing the design of Circular Quay’s office tower and precinct centrepiece at 180 George Street, Circular Quay Tower.

Lendlease Managing Director, Urban Regeneration, Mark Menhinnitt, said Lendlease was impressed by Foster + Partners’ refined scheme that recognised the need for strong integration and activation of the ground plane, while ensuring the tower is a spectacular landmark worthy of its iconic location.

“Circular Quay Tower, to be located on a new internationally recognised address, will provide a dynamic workplace and environment for Sydney’s future generation of office occupiers,” Mr Menhinnitt said.

[Related article: Circular Quay Planning Proposal Approved By City Of Sydney]

“Fronting the reinvigorated city spine of George Street with two new plazas, workers and visitors will be welcomed to an abundance of retail, dining and entertainment, and arts and culture.”

Foster + Partners Senior Executive Partner Gerard Evenden, said the firm wanted Circular Quay Tower and its surroundings to be of its place, taking advantage of its topography and unique location – a stone’s throw from Sydney Harbour.

“The tower will be the centrepiece of an urban regeneration precinct that will reshape the northern end of the CBD into a vibrant community contributing to Sydney’s status as a global city,” Mr Evenden said.

When complete, Circular Quay Tower will become Sydney’s tallest office tower with a roof structure of up to 263 metres high.

To complete the entire Circular Quay precinct development, the tower will be accompanied by a network of pedestrian laneways that criss-cross the site at different levels to connect and enliven the precinct. The laneways will be lined with shops, cafes and bars, celebrating Sydney as a unique destination. The tower will also be joined by the George Street Plaza, the Rugby Club Plaza, the Public Bike Hub, the Community Building and an array of public artwork that will, according to Lendlease, “help to affirm Sydney’s position as a globally relevant, intelligent and innovative metropolis”.

Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio and Senior Executive Partner, Foster + Partners, who led the design team remarked: “We wanted Circular Quay Tower and its surroundings to be of its place, taking advantage of its topography and unique location near Sydney Harbour. The tower will be the centrepiece of an urban regeneration precinct that will reshape the northern end of the CBD into a vibrant community contributing to Sydney’s status as a global city.”

The sites included in the Circular Quay precinct plan include:

  • Pitt Street building, 33-35 Pitt Street
  • George Street building, 182 George Street
  • Jacksons on George, 174-176A George Street
  • Mirvac Triangle, part of the 200 George Street development site, and
  • Crane Lane extending east from George Street and north to the Rugby Club.

The tower also makes a distinctive contribution to Sydney’s skyline with its innovative façade – a series of external cross-braces derived from structural stress diagrams. The south façade is broken into three bays with the concrete cores ‘book-ending’ the three transparent banks of lifts that animate the façade. The entire elevation is vertically articulated to modulate its visual impact on the skyline. The expressed structure also allows flexibility in interior layouts with the core offset to one side.

“The innovative workspaces at Circular Quay Tower are flexibly designed to support new ways of working in the 21st century so that anyone from a new start-up to large companies can enjoy this fabulous urban location. We are delighted that the jury concurred with our design vision and look forward eagerly to the next stages of the project.” Evenden added.

The process leading to Foster + Partners being announced as project architects

The Central Sydney Planning Committee said in 2016 that Lendlease’s proposal for Circular Quay would support the New South Wales economy by providing capacity for employment growth and investment in Central Sydney.

Local architectural firm, Stewart Hollenstein, was selected to remodel the Jacksons on George site that promises to be an exciting transformation of the much-loved Sydney institution.

The brief called for a more public and inviting building with active edges, open frontages, flexibility and a public roof terrace. This has been delivered with a concept that celebrates the unique location and social quality of the site.

Lendlease held the design competitions following Council’s endorsement of Lendlease’s revised planning proposal and accompanying Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) in July 2016.

Foster + Partners was selected from seven international and local architect teams, which were invited to participate. The panel of six jury members assessed the submissions according to the City of Sydney’s Competitive Design Policy.

As part of their selection, both Foster + Partners and Stewart Hollenstein will be required to develop and refine their proposals to final designs, which will be subject to development consent. A Development Application (DA) will be submitted late 2017 for determination by the City of Sydney.

In December 2016, Lendlease confirmed Ping An Real Estate and Mitsubishi Estate Asia as development partners. Circular Quay Tower is part of the broader Circular Quay renewal project with significant public and private investment into infrastructure and development, including Sydney Light Rail on George Street, upgrades to Circular Quay ferry terminal and other commercial projects.

Illustrating the architectural decision

Foster + Partners’ competition-winning design proposal, which won them the Circular Quay Tower contract, was backed up by a long list of impressive architectural credentials.

For 50 years, Foster + Partners have been responsible for some of the world’s most notable buildings including the Hearst Tower in New York and ‘The Gherkin’ in London.

Earlier this year they won the Jabal Omar competition in Saudi Arabia for their scheme for a new luxury hotel and serviced apartments in the heart of Makkah. Their mixed-use development would create a new gateway along the route to the Grand Mosque for pilgrims from the world over. They were inspired by traditional Arab architecture to create a new contemporary vernacular that was noted to be respectful to its sacred location.

[Related article: Foster + Partners Wins Chance To Develop In Saudi Arabia]

Jabal Omar competition winner.

Locally, Foster + Partners was responsible for designing DUO, a mixed use development that forms a key part of the Central Park masterplan in Sydney.

[Related article: Frasers Property & Sekisui House To Launch DUO At Central Park]

They were also invited to join a seven-team consortium to design six of seven new train stations that will become part of the greater Sydney Metro line.

[Related article: Australia’s Biggest Metro Project Names Pritzker Prize Awarded Architect To Create Six New Stations]

The proposal for Circular Quay Tower is in pre-approval stage however has been strongly endorsed by the City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee. Accordingly the planning risk has largely been mitigated.

Consent is anticipated Q3-2017.


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