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Seidler’s MLC Centre begins $170m makeover

Construction has begun on a $170 million project to redevelop the Harry Seidler designed MLC Centre in central Sydney.

The project is designed by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Harry Seidler and Associates.

It will include 6,000 square metres of new and improved retail, dining, cultural and commercial spaces across a new four-level podium at the base of the existing tower in the forecourt. The design plays on the geometry of the existing forms around the base of the tower.

“Over the past 7 years, we’ve been able to craft the next layer to Seidler’s legacy – working closely with Greg Holman and the Harry Seidler and Associates team,” said Domenic Alvaro, global design director of Woods Bagot. “Together, we have created a dialogue between the fluidity of the new geometry and the solidity that currently defines the 1978 narrative to create an iconic retail statement for the city.

The proposed redevelopment of MLC Centre. Design led by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Harry Seidler and Associates.

The proposed redevelopment of MLC Centre. Design led by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Harry Seidler and Associates.

Image: Narrative

“Using our understanding of how to intensify mixed use precincts, we’ve designed a highly transparent destination retail precinct that blurs the traditional public / private interface and therefore engagement of the public realm. The precinct will be re-established as Sydney’s most desirable food, beverage and retail destination.”

Penelope Seidler, director of Harry Seidler and Associates, said, “I am so excited about the design of the new works proposed for the MLC Centre. The integrity of Harry’s original architecture is to be re-established and contrasted with new geometries of internally illuminated glass. The MLC Centre will become the glowing core of the centre of Sydney.”

The project will establish new retail spaces on Castlereagh and Kings Streets with a new plaza and food and beverage precinct fronting Martin Place.

The project was first unveiled in 2015 and has since further developed in response to changes in Sydney CBD such as the proposed Martin Place Metro Station.

The redevelopment will also see the Harry Seidler designed Theatre Royal revitalized, following a 45-year lease agreement signed between the building’s owner Dexus and the NSW government. The theatre is the oldest theatrical institution in Sydney and will be privately operated following the redevelopment.

The Theatre Royal will be revitalized as part of the proposed redevelopment of MLC Centre. Design led by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Harry Seidler and Associates.

The Theatre Royal will be revitalized as part of the proposed redevelopment of MLC Centre. Design led by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Harry Seidler and Associates.

Image: Woods Bagot.

The 67 storey MLC Centre, completed in 1977, was for a time the tallest concrete office building outside of North America. The octagonal footprint of the building occupied only 20 percent of the site with the remaining area given over to the plaza and outdoor spaces. It was awarded the RAIA Civic Design Award in 1981 and the Sulman Medal in 1983.

The redevelopment is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

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