Monday, 12 February 2018

NEVER BUILT: North Sydney Civic Centre (1970)

Above: The Never Built North Sydney Civic Centre.
Source: Yeomans, J. 1970. "Sydney's Twin is Growing Up". The Sun Herald, November 15: 59.

I think this has to be the biggest proposal ever envisioned for North Sydney, but it did not become reality - the creation of a new civic centre for North Sydney. This was proposed for the site of the current Civic Centre in Miller Street.

In 1970, it was reported in The Sun Herald (November 15) that it would be the biggest Civic Centre in Australia. Apart from council offices, a new library and conference spaces, there would be a hotel and commercial office space. Construction would be overseen by Sabemo and completed in stages with final completion in 1984. Sabemo was also given a 75-year option to lease space in various towers.

Sadly it would have meant the demolition of the current council chambers building (200 Miller Street). Parts of the building date back to 1870.

During the 1980s, a small office building, public park and new library (John Stanton Library) were built on the site, the park provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of North Sydney.

Photos were taken by the Author (2016).

What if the scheme had gone ahead?
Remember this is only a possible outcome. Anything could happen. What do you think? - feel free to comment. 

The buildings in the rendering were conceptual but had they stuck to the envelopes presented, I think North Sydney's CBD would be much larger than what it is today. In fact, the focal point of North Sydney would be further north. As for development, the residential areas in nearby blocks would not exist in their low rise form today with a mixture of taller apartment buildings with office buildings. 

North Sydney would be a more viable commercial centre overall but this may have meant that St Leonards and Chatswood might not have evolved into the centres that they are today, given the office space made available by development in North Sydney.

In fact, I doubt that Chatswood's Civic Centre would have been possible if North Sydney had a larger precinct. Combine it with less commercial development and Willoughby Council would not have had the source of funding from rates to make it possible. 

Also, the existing North Sydney CBD would have seen a greater mix of residential and office buildings. As for retail, the larger working (and residential population) would have spurred demand for more retail space meaning the possibility that one could actually shop in North Sydney. Greater vibrancy would fill the streets. 

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