Australian Institute of Architects - Commendation (Commercial Building)
The 12-storey building at 55 Grenfell Street comprised 10 levels of office space on top of a dedicated banking chamber at street and mezzanine level.
Built in 1981, it was a distinctive fixture in the Adelaide CBD through its heavy structural elements and pre-cast cladding. After less than 20 years occupying its prime Grenfell Street/Gawler Place corner site the property was underperforming commercially and no longer considered prime office space. The owners initially considered demolishing the tower and building a new one incorporating all the technology and servicing advances of the new-millennium. Further investigation and subsequent discussions with Tectvs convinced them the building could be revitalised and upgraded to premium leasing status far more cost-effectively than starting from scratch.
Tectvs successfully proposed a design solution that would transform the perception of the building in the marketplace while working within the existing structure. Its approach was triple-pronged: refurbish the upper office levels to meet the requirements of major tenants; turn the awkwardly configured banking chamber into prime ground-floor retail space; and re-orientate the street presence to Grenfell Street through a new façade, entry and foyer to significantly improve exposure and access to the upper-floor tenants.
The treatment would address the negative perception of the building’s contribution to the streetscape and enhance its market profile; it would be a full operational upgrade, not a cosmetic makeover. The major initial design issue for Tectvs to resolve was the existing clutter of steel and glass roof structure and canopy that enclosed the ground floor and covered both street frontages. Along with the black tinted glazing at street level, the overhead structure cast an unwelcoming pall over a busy corner. Tectvs opted to demolish the roofing system and replace it with two-level clear glazing and balcony glazing on the two street elevations, encapsulating a grand entry space, ground floor-tenancies and a copper-panelled Grenfell Street entry. It also realigned the building edge at the corner of Gawler Place and Grenfell Street at ground level to redefine the corner and refocus the building on Grenfell Street.
The creation of a second-level “pediment” around the perimeter, by building out the existing spandrel panel, reformed the scale of the building by forming a podium level that graced the street in more appropriate proportions and scale. On completion in 2001 the redeveloped building became the new corporate headquarters in Adelaide of resources giant BHP Billiton.
99 Gawler Place, 45 Grenfell Street
International mining giant BHP Billiton’s expansion and takeover activity in the 1990s onwards caused a rapid increase in employee numbers which in turn put pressure on office facilities. Many of the new personnel were relocated to the company’s new corporate headquarters in Adelaide at 55 Grenfell Street, an award-winning CBD office tower refurbishment designed by Tectvs and completed in 2001. The company’s accommodation needs were pressing and growing by the week.
Tectvs was initially engaged to design and fitout two executive levels of 55 Grenfell Street by December 2005, a non-negotiable deadline a matter of months away. With no time for traditional documentation or procurement methods, Tectvs developed a fast-track design, documentation and construction process to deliver the project in the stipulated time and provide a strategy for countering such extreme time constraints in the future. It called for registrations of interest for the construction management role and helped BHP Billiton make the selection. Documentation had already begun and furniture with long manufacture lead-in times already ordered. The fitout was delivered on time and at a rate almost unknown in Adelaide at the time and prepared designer and client for the next huge accommodation challenge – when BHP Billiton took over Western Mining and sought to consolidate staff in Adelaide. With 55 Grenfell Street fully tenanted, the company was forced to spread new personnel across seven floors of two neighboring buildings. Tectvs was given six months to design and fit-out three levels of offices at 99 Gawler Place and four levels at 45 Grenfell Street for occupation in December 2007. By the time of successful delivery in mid-December, BHP Billiton had announced the multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam mining operation, bringing a new round of facilities evaluation and planning. Tectvs was engaged to work with BHP Billiton on the accommodation requirements of Stage 1 of the expansion project.