Geocon is set to restore the historic West Block buildings in front of new Parliament House into a luxury hotel.
The company previously acquired the site for $6.25 million.
“This new hotel will celebrate the heritage aspects of the buildings, inside and out, and, for the first time, open up these historic structures to the public,” Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis said.
West Block will be one of the first of the new deluxe offerings the group will bring to Canberra, and with the help of architects Fender Katsalidis Geocon hope to deliver an international-standard luxury experience.
“I was interested to learn that the architectural nature of these buildings was quite different from the buildings envisaged for the Parliamentary Triangle by Walter Burley Griffin, the American architect who won the international competition held in 1912, for the design of Canberra," Georgalis said.
"They are, nonetheless, fine examples of Federal Capital Architecture, a version of the Inter-War Stripped Classical style, and exhibit classical-style proportions and features of arcaded entrance screens and courtyard arrival points.
"These wonderful heritage aspects will be central to the re-development, as will the interior references to government and political life in Australia at the time.”
“I want to dispel the concerns of those worried about the future of these buildings.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to create another unique property which both preserves and celebrates important aspects of Canberra’s early history, and we take this responsibility very seriously.
"We also want Australians – the original owners of this property – to have maximum opportunity to enjoy its history and significance, as they are able to do with the re- purposed Old Parliament House.”
Designed by architect John Smith Murdoch, West Block was one of the earliest buildings erected in the Parliamentary Triangle of the "new Federal Capital". It opened for government use in 1927 as part of the Secretariat buildings and was once home to the National Library, the Crown Solicitor's office and the Australian Electoral Commission.
Part of the site, known as The Dugout, was a World War II bomb shelter, which was used to code and decode messages between Australian prime minister John Curtin and British prime minister Winston Churchill.
“Delivering another world-class, luxury property will enhance the range of up-scale hotel offerings in the ACT, in addition to Geocon’s recent announcement of a luxury hotel to be built in the CBD at 70 Bunda Street,” Georgalis said.