AHL Headquarters – 478 George Street by Candalepas Associates
Commercial Architecture: Harry Seidler Award
Australian Institute of Architects
This project is an inventive infill on a long, narrow and restricted inner-city site that resolves complex site constraints and functional requirements with a simple, restrained solution. Adjacent to Johnson Pilton Walker’s refurbished Hilton Hotel and directly opposite the grandeur of Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building, the AHL Headquarters gives an elegant yet playful nod to its eminent surrounds. The facade is carefully articulated to respond to the height, setback and materiality of surrounding buildings and creates a delightful play of shadows and light. Combining gently rounded sandstone blade columns with the honesty and imperfection of off-form concrete, the building’s street frontage provides a finely grained order to the streetscape. The building maximizes amenity and floor space by cantilevering a large picture window over the neighbouring State Theatre, which opens the office spaces to northern sunlight and views of the city and provides a striking intervention in its solid boundary wall. The entry sequence on ground level transforms the long distance to the lift core into a range of spaces that are intimate and compressed, then voluminous and light-filled. A refreshing counterpoint to the prevalence of the large-curtain-walled office towers, this refined building demonstrates a different way to approach commercial space in our cities.