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Walsh Bay Partnership (Transfield and Mirvac) appears close to approval from Department of Urban Affairs and Planning head Sue Holliday for its redevelopment of the wharf precinct between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. The detailed design by Peddle Thorp & Walker with HPA arises from a complex negotiation between many stakeholders and develops a concept from French architect Philippe Robert, who was introduced to resolve an impasse between the developers and government. The current scheme proposes a 100-seat drama theatre in Hickson Road; recycling Bond Store 3 as a theatre and a new home for the Archives Authority of NSW; placing new arts uses in a restored Pier 2/3, rebuilding the shore sheds along Hickson Road and the shed on Pier 6/7 to provide 330 apartments; adapting Pier 8/9 as a luxury hotel; building 68 apartments and townhouses in Pottinger Street and Bond Store 4, and providing supermarket and other amenities along Hickson Road and in Towns Place. A controversial aspect is the public boardwalk planned along the harbour side of the shore sheds, which is seen as desirable but requires cutting through the historic wharf sheds.


The Buchan Group is converting Sydney’s GPO at 1 Martin Place into a residential, hotel and commercial/retail centre. The scheme involves building a 26-level office tower and 28-level, 5-star hotel on sites just to the south of the James Barnet post office, then fitting out the sandstone monument with shops, restaurants and hotel facilities. The towers will connect to the GPO via a 30 metre-high glass roof sheltering a public courtyard at the centre of the development. The project’s key architects are David Cole and Nick Walter of Buchan’s Melbourne office. The conservation consultant is Ian Stapleton of Clive Lucas Stapleton, Sydney.


Star CasinoCox Hillier, a joint venture of Cox Richardson in Sydney and US casino specialists Hillier Group, have completed the Star City casino/entertainment complex at Pyrmont “on time and on budget”, despite the financial failure of a planned shopping precinct on the first floor. The complex comprises two wavy 10-storey towers (hotel and serviced apartments) above a five-storey casino/entertainment complex and a basement light rail station and carpark. The casino component is externally faced with aggregate panels intended to allude to Sydney sandstone and is distinguished on its harbour side by a massive cascade of steps (needed as a mass fire exit), various water features and a large, glazed, tapered drum housing a grand staircase to a 2000-seat lyric theatre. Other facilities are a 900-seat cabaret theatre, seven restaurants and five bars; these arranged around a central gaming zone divided into four themed precincts which are elaborated by awesomely kitsch installations designed by Landmark, a US consultancy. The internal layout has many confusing aspects and circulation paths are not legible. The most luxurious zones are private: the high rollers’ gaming room, designed as an Arabian tent, and the hotel pool court, looking east to the city.

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