Inside Martin Place's Retail Podium Redevelopment


Architects Harry Siedler and Associates together with Woods Bagot has released an architectural report for a retail modification of 19-29 Martin Place Sydney.

The MLC Centre is a significant commercial 60-storey office tower centrally located in Martin Place. The podium of the building includes a shopping centre with several exclusive fashion labels and a 1,186 seat theatre, the Theatre Royal.

The building was designed by Sydney architect Harry Seidler and remains one of his most definitive works. It was also awarded the Sir John Sulman medal by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.
Project Principles for the New Works
Since 1977, incremental and sometimes unsympathetic changes have diminished the character, qualities and integrity of Seidler’s original design intent for the MLC Centre, according to the report. In 1991, refurbishment works were carried out with significant impact on the original design and an awning was attached to the concrete façade above Castlereagh Street.

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Castlereagh Street - extent of awningsThese works were carried out to address a signifi cantly diff erent street environment. At that time, the MLC Centre fronted a much narrower Castlereagh Street footpath without mature trees. This redevelopment project seeks to reverse the unsympathetic changes. A principle established for the design of the project is to re-establish the simplicity and clarity of the original design consistent with Seidler’s architectural works generally, which typically avoid awnings in similar retail street front instances.

The Consent includes design for a double height retail tenancy at Level 6 adjacent to Martin Place. This design modification proposes the addition of a mezzanine floor within the glass shopfront of this tenancy.

proposed mezzanine floor

The proposed addition of a mezzanine floor, to be constructed behind an uninterrupted glass face, offers the surety of a more activated retail presentation over the height of the frontage while maintaining appropriate architectural scale adjacent to Martin Place. The proposed mezzanine floor extends the level of the MLC Plaza towards Martin Place to provide a visual cue for the plaza which is otherwise unseen from the adjacent part of Martin Place. Sight lines to the MLC Plaza become available further East toward Castlereagh Street.

martin place redevelopment

Suspended masses
Consistent with the Castlereagh Street streetscape north of the MLC Centre, the proposed design continues built form aligned to the footpath. Consistent with the original design of MLC, the proposed design expresses the floating mass of the original architecture, without an awning.

suspended mass

The proposed design re-establishes the reading of the suspended masses by the specification of super-clear (low iron) glazing, detailed to span without intermediate structure or visible metalwork connections for facades beneath; by dissolving the corners of the infill beneath, using super-clear curved glass, and by insetting the return glass alignments from the end walls of the suspended forms above, emphasising the expression of floating mass above.

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