When 50 Martin Place opened in 1928 as head office for the Government Savings Bank of NSW, it was the city’s tallest, most expensive building with the world’s largest banking chamber. It has since been transformed as the global headquarters of Macquarie Group.
At ground level, the grand hall and banking chamber are lavishly detailed in the Neo-classical style, featuring marble and scagliola – a form of plaster – on massive stylised columns. The award-winning adaptive re-use of the building in 2014 under a team led by Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW) with building company Multiplex, sees old and new beautifully enmeshed.
Inside the atrium are two futuristic circular glass lifts. An extraordinary eight-story-high installation by artist Nike Savvas, Colours are the country, can be seen during the lift journey. Straddling the atrium is a new steel-framed glass dome, designed as a fifth facade to be seen from neighbouring buildings as a shimmering lantern.
The refurbishment of 50 Martin Place won a string of awards, including the 2015 Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture and Best Adaptive Re-use from the Urban Design Institute of Australia. It is also Australia’s largest heritage building to be given a Six Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.
Strategically positioned halfway up the atrium resides a cade and barista bar, that will create yet another layer of connectivity and excitement within Macquarie’s new workplace. Each floor has its own breakout space, an area designed for socialising, networking and hosting meetings whilst still remaining a highly functional kitchen space.
In the workplace, a hybrid Activity Based Working seating arrangement was formulated that allowed teams to expand and contract as necessary whilst maintaining a level of consistency in numbers. Sit to stand chilled desks were incorporated.