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QT Sydney Gowings and State Theatre Restoration Wins Coveted AIA Award

July 22, 2013 Accolades No Comments Email Email

Woodhead (Project Architect) and Graham Brooks and Associates (Heritage Architect) were last week awarded the coveted 2013 NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architect’s Francis Greenway Restoration Award – receiving the accolade for their work restoring the heritage listed Gowings and State Theatre buildings and for the QT Sydney hotel conversion.

The Greenway Award is the Institute’s most prestigious heritage conservation award – Group Managing Director of AHL (QT Hotels & Resorts), David Seargeant said ‘the build of QT Sydney was sensitive to the historical significance of the sites, the construction embarked on a painstaking 3 year 526813restoration project in an effort to retain the distinct heritage of each building. The gothic features of the Palazzo-style Gowings Building, originally designed by renowned architect Crawford H Mackellar, have been thoughtfully returned to their former glory.’

The planning process for the project started some 3 years ago and the hefty restoration work which commenced in 2011 resulted in the historic Gowings and State Theatre buildings in Sydney’s CBD being artfully revamped and saw the introduction of arguably Sydney’s most iconic designer hotels.

The project saw the melding of two iconic Sydney buildings of distinct early 20th century style: the State Theatre (1929) by architects Henry White and John Eberson is in an inter-war Gothic Skyscraper style and the Gowings building (1929) by Crawford H. Mackellar of inter-war Commercial Palazzo style, both buildings have now been converted from their originally intended usages.

An eagerly awaited development, the gothic façades and features of the buildings were carefully returned to their former glory; and represent a remarkable achievement in the conservation, refurbishment and adaptive reuse of two of the country’s most recognised buildings. The buildings have been combined and significantly adapted to transform the formerly distinct buildings into one of the country’s most exciting hotels. The inside of the hotel now showcases cutting edge art and design and features LED digital art, bespoke furniture and a strong use of bold colours, fusing clever design with beautifully restored heritage features.

The restoration project saw Woodhead manage issues of structural connectivity and heritage conservation. This included the careful integration of building systems, the curation of site specific art installations with the project team thoroughly considering each element of the heritage fabric for preservation, reuse or adaptation.

Associate Director of Graham Brooks and Associates, Jonathan Bryant said ‘we believe that heritage conservation is actually about memory, place and orientation in a world of flux. Our work is about managing change to architectural signposts in our shared urban and rural landscapes’.

Joe Agius, the NSW Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects was congratulatory on the award commenting that the restoration and conversion was ‘an exceptional gift for the city’.

Both the State Theatre and Gowings Building originally opened their doors to the public back in 1929 and QT Sydney was the first major redevelopment of the buildings in the six years since the iconic department store was shuttered.

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