PTW Architects (2004, Civic Tower)
The Masonic Centre, on Castlereagh Street, is one of Sydney’s most enigmatic pieces of architecture. Its mystique lies not just in its imposing concrete form straddling Goulburn and Castlereagh Streets, nor in the 24-storey Civic Tower that seems poised above the podium on a pinhead. It is because these two dramatically interlocking elements were built some 30 years apart.
Architects Joseland & Gilling designed both podium and tower in the early 1970s, as headquarters for the United Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT of Ancient, Free and Accepted Freemasons. But from 1974 to 1979, only the podium was erected.
Decades later, the air space above the podium was sold to a developer, along with plans for a glass curtain-wall tower. The new owner saw beauty in the original plans, as did PTW Architects, who completed the tower faithfully to the former design, while giving it a new defining feature — that precarious balancing act. The illusion made Civic Tower Australia’s first building to be fully supported on a central lift core, without perimeter columns extending down to footings.
During the tower addition, the podium was also amended at street level with a geometric awning of suspended glass, which tempers the elements while leaving the structure visible.
Sydney Open visitors will enjoy rare access to the world of an ancient fraternal organisation, and see a special exhibition and the Son et Lumière promotional video, showing throughout the day.
Sydney Masonic Centre has an Australian building greenhouse rating of 4.5 stars.
Marble three-storey entrance foyer, round elevators, Banquet Hall, lodge rooms, museum, archives, library, Grand Master’s suite.
Signs will advise when flash cannot be used on delicate items.
The Masonic Centre’s involvement in Sydney Open has been made possible by the Museum of Freemasonry.