Macquarie Group at No. 1 Martin Place

Sunday 6 November

1 Martin Place, Sydney

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Built

1826–90

Architect

James Barnet, Colonial Architect

Additional architects

1999 – Buchan Group Architects

Lucas Stapleton Johnson – heritage conservation

2016 – Rod Pindar (principal), Fitzpatrick + Partners – addition of atrium, stair and collaboration spaces for Macquarie Group on levels 1–7

200 years of the NSW Government Architect's Office

It was hailed as the ‘arrival’ of architecture and art into Sydney – a turning point for the colony. New technologies in telegraphy and cheap postage required a city communications hub and social centre. The GPO, designed by Colonial Architect, James Barnet, was completed in stages between 1866 and 1891, when its clock tower was finally added. It would be the tallest civic structure in the city. Straddling 114 metres along Martin Place, it also remains one of the largest sandstone buildings in New South Wales.

Its golden sandstone was quarried from Pyrmont, and Barnet commissioned Italian immigrant sculptor Tomaso Sani to carve its reliefs depicting colonial life, but – a little too life-like for some – they were denigrated by critics as ‘caricatures’.

Despite its controversies, the GPO prevailed as the hub of Sydney commerce, shaping the city’s urban grid and Martin Place precinct. Later additions along George Street were designed by the first man to hold the title of Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon. In 1942 the clock tower was demolished to reduce its visibility as a war-time air target, but it was rebuilt in 1964. The GPO served as postal headquarters until 1996, when the site was privatised and radically transformed.

The Buchan Group designed a 26-level office tower and the 31-level Westin Hotel. Heritage architects Lucas Stapleton Johnson helped integrate these around a glazed Grand Courtyard, and conserved the GPO’s elegant sandstone facade, colonnade and famous clock tower. Still virtually intact today, this facade is heritage-listed on both the state and commonwealth Heritage Register and New South Wales State Heritage Register.

In 2016 architects Fitzpatrick + Partners completed a refurbishment of levels 1-7 for Macquarie Group where they cut through concrete floors to connect each level using the visual theatre of an Escher-like staircase within a seven-storey atrium.

On Sunday 6 November


What’s open?

The collaboration areas around the atrium on levels 1-7 of the Macquarie Group space, including a café on level 4.


Opening hours

Sunday 6 November
10am – 4pm

Last entry
4pm


Talks, tours & more

11am

Drop-in talk by architect Rod Pindar, principal at Fitzpatrick + Partners, and Anthony Henry, Head of Workplace at Macquarie Group, about recent refurbishment of levels 1-7.

45 mins


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Priority access for SLM Members

Members get priority access to this building
Show your special Member wristband or Membership Card to gain priority access during Sydney Open.


Need
to know

  • Photography restricted
    Allowed inside the Macquarie Group space but no photography on the mezzanine level

  • Lines expected

  • Toilets available

  • Food & drink available

  • Accessible


Address

1 Martin Place, Sydney

Entry via

Martin Place (in front of escalators)

Accessible entry

Pitt Street (next to Westin Hotel entrance)


Acknowledgements

Macquarie Group at No.1 Martin Place’s involvement in Sydney Open has been made possible by Macquarie Group Ltd (tenant), Charter Hall (owner) and Knight Frank (building manager).