$16 million makeover for heritage building

We’re giving this city landmark a facelift to preserve it for future generations.

A heritage-listed building on George Street with commanding views of Martin Place is set for an upgrade on 3 street fronts.

Steeped in local history, the site was once the headquarters of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney from the 1850s until its merger with the National Bank in the 1980s.

The building at 343 George Street was constructed in 2 stages from 1921 to 1925 and was known as Barrack House.

Today the building features 11 office floors, ground floor retail and basement storage and is home to big name companies, including Atlassian and Burberry.

City of Sydney historian Dr Lisa Murray described the landmark building as a significant example of the city’s interwar architecture, and well worth preserving.

“Along with its twin, the Bank of NSW, these prominent bank buildings helped cement Martin Place as Sydney’s financial hub in the 1930s,” Dr Murray said.

343 George St Martin Place view

“Martin Place was widened and extended by the city council between 1923 and 1925. Lined with imposing banks and insurance buildings, Martin Place became a destination that aimed to impress. The grand designs and lavish materials conveyed prestige, as well as wealth, strength and security.”

Staged remediation works will be carried out over several years on the majestic Commercial Palazzo-style building, with the total work and project expected to cost around $16.6 million.

343 George St Martin Place view

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the works were vital for preserving the landmark heritage building into the future.

“Along with its neighbours, 343 George Street forms an important group of buildings overlooking George Street and visually closes off the western end of Martin Place, one of Sydney’s most important and accessible civic spaces,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It’s where people gather, where we host major cultural events, display our largest Christmas tree, and is the backdrop for some of the nation’s most enduring traditions, including the Anzac Day dawn service.

“Ensuring the longevity of the heritage-listed buildings framing this space and lining our newly pedestrianised George Street boulevard is vital. “The imposing façade and elegant interiors of this building are wonderful examples of exceptional craftsmanship. They showcase the artistic talents of Sydney’s past architects, builders, artisans and decorators. “We’re ensuring this building remains a significant commercial space for retail and office use and preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

“By carrying out extensive remediation works of the city’s historic buildings, we are keeping these important spaces alive, in use and in great condition. This is a sound investment in our city’s future and in the local economy,” the Lord Mayor said.

343 George St at night

The building was refurbished in 1986 and the façade was refurbished in 1991. Internal refurbishments were also completed in 2006. The City of Sydney commissioned building reports by heritage architects, Lucas Stapleton Johnson & Partners, and Design 5 – Architects between 2018 and 2020.

The first stage of work will get underway in June 2022 with remediation works to cement render, concrete, steel and bronze windows and copper weatherings on the Barrack Lane façade. This stage is expected to be completed by December 2023. Façade remediation of the stonework, steel and bronze window repairs and façade lighting for the George and Barrack streets frontages will follow.

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