As previously reported in Mosman Collective, the Bates Smart & McCutcheon-designed landmark was completed in August 1957 and was the first “sky scraper” on the northern side of Sydney Harbour.
Ahead of its time, the 14-storey building was fully air conditioned and housed a 320-seat staff canteen, two Squash courts, a theatrette, car park and 23 lifts.
Dixon said in her decision the building had dominated the skyline and “boldly declared modernist planning, daring use of materials and technology, as well as function-over-fussy-ornamentation”.
“It was a contemporary architectural statement described at the time as ‘a glossy beacon of modernity’.”
When it opened, the 14-storey MLC Building had two squash courts, a 320 seat canteen and 23 lifts.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports Emeritus Professor James Weirick, an expert in urban design, told the court the block, designed by architectural firm Bates Smart McCutcheon, was “a wonder of its time”, and “still the most iconic office building in north Sydney today”.
He said on Wednesday the court’s rejection of the proposal to redevelop the site was “a very important victory for the defence of heritage conservation in NSW”.
“If financial matters had trumped heritage matters, we would really have found a crisis across our precious heritage sites,” Weirick said.
The MLC Centre seen from Mount St in North Sydney. Image: Max Dupain.
The Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Chapter president Adam Haddow said he was “incredibly ecstatic” the court had recognised the building’s heritage significance.
“The MLC Building is important as a memory of our cultural consciousness; it tells us about ourselves at a specific point in time and that’s really important.”
He told the SMH that buildings not considered fashionable were no less valuable, noting the beloved Queen Victoria Building was once slated for demolition.