333 George Street

24 July 2014 — Sydney Lord Mayor Clove Moore was chuffed. Charter Hall’s 333 George Street on the corner of Martin Place would “help redefine George Street and return it to its status as the city’s main promenade”, she said.

The owners say the building has “intelligent design” and will help Sydney “stay abreast of its international competitors”.

Whatever the accolades, it’s clear that the building, on which construction has just commenced, is in a prime position in the heart of Sydney’s commercial zone and amidst a spate of new buildings in Martin Place that will each bounce off each other with hype and zing to help redefine the entire area.

But international competition isn’t the only competition on offer. Look locally for plenty of sibling rivalry.

Sydney is awash with new precincts or zones and all of them will lay claim to being the coolest, greenest most forward-thinking “places” on offer, (place-making is the new black, in green terms that is).

There’s the big controversial Barangaroo on the north-western fringe of the CBD; AMP’s new zone Quay Quarter, Circular Quay, which is still under wraps but creating plenty of heat and excitement about the financial behemoth’s precinct-minded intentions there; and down south next to Central Station is the new hipster zone led by high profile new construction at the University of Technology Sydney and Central Park. Oh, and let’s not forget the long-time-coming Green Square, only a touch out of town, on the way to the airport, and promising to be as green as its name.

But on Wednesday night it was Charter Hall’s turn to dazzle. The new building will be 18 storeys high, making it respectful of its historic siting, and also, as it turns out, of its occupants with a “sense of community” a central aim of the five levels of cascading rooftop terraces that will “bring the outside in and its highly-transparent floor to ceiling windows that create a sense of openness”.

The environmental qualities will include high performance glazing – which somehow escapes the attention of residential developers doing other often taller buildings around town in Sydney and Melbourne – rainwater harvesting and water recycling (also rarely seen in the resi towers).

Energy will be tightly monitored and the rating targets will be 5 Star Green Star As Built and a five star NABERS Energy. Design will be strongly focused on achieving happy occupants.

Ms Moore was keen on the global performance of 333 George Street. It would “epitomise so much of what our Sydney 2030 work was about: quality development through innovative design, mixed uses to create a diverse and appealing city centre and – last but definitely not least – sustainability”, she said.

“This is what cities need if we are to stay abreast of our international competitors. It’s what the skilled and mobile young workforce of today expects, and it’s what we require if we are to create green and liveable cities for the future.”

Chris Forbes, fund manager of Charter Hall’s Core Plus Office Fund, which owns the building, said the key message in the design was “transparency”.

This reflected “how organisations do business today – engaging with customers face-to-face and creating world-class workspaces to increase employee satisfaction”.

International design firm Grimshaw is the architect, with executive architects Sydney-based Crone Partners.

Grimshaw partner Andrew Cortese said the building would “restore the quality of architecture in the area and be a visually captivating place to work, one that engages with its environment, extends the premier retail streetscape and sculpts a landmark piece of architecture”.

Architectural details include “finely detailed crystalline façade that has a unique form sculptured from the arrays of sunlight and features curved corners that open up and tilt back as the building rises”.

Stepped landscaped terraces will bring “verdant green into the city centre”, with integrated outdoor and indoor workspaces, and floorplates that will permit interconnecting voids to “promote a vertically connected office environment”.

Charter Hall Group, launched in 1991, now has property portfolio of more than $10.6 billion.