JOURNAL/ Mar/Apr/2012


Bates Smart Timeline
MLC Building, North Sydney

Designed by Bates Smart in 1957, the MLC building turns 55 this year. We think this is an appropriate time to take stock of the longstanding relationship between Bates Smart (formerly Bates Smart McCutcheon) and MLC. The relationship spans a century of work and over 12 significant buildings across four states.

This longstanding relationship started in 1937, when Bates Smart McCutcheon (BSM) won a design competition for the new Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Building (MLC) headquarters in Sydney, a competition that attracted more than 70 entries. 

The classical design, with its corner tower and prominent inclusion of MLC’s sculptural emblem, was meticulously designed to support the MLC’s needs and ambitions.  At the time it was heralded as “the most beautiful and impressive structure in Australasia”.

The relationship prospered in the 1950s, with MLC building BSM designed buildings in Brisbane (1955), Wollongong (1956), Shepparton (1959), Ballarat (1954), Geelong (1953), Adelaide (1957), Perth (1957), Newcastle (1957) North Sydney (1957), and Canberra (1959).

The key for many of these buildings was their innovation in construction, that is, the introduction of lightweight structure that was then unprecedented in Australian buildings. 

Each building was planned on a modular grid to maximise the use of prefabricated elements. Given the pre-assembled nature of the design, interior fitout and external cladding could occur at lower levels while the steel frame was simultaneously being erected on upper walls.

Of these, the most notable design was the MLC Building in North Sydney, which retains its importance as a significant intact local example of the 1950s International Style in post-war architecture. The curtain wall, a thin aluminium framed glass skin, represents the highest level of innovation in construction technology of the time, which was coupled with the emerging modern rationalised open-plan office environment.

Bates Smart has recently been involved in a general refurbishment of the building to upgrade its corporate attractiveness and flexibility for the contemporary market. The extent of the refurbishment included all aspects of the curtain wall: exterior cleaning, waterproofing, internal finish and venetians, all base building elements of the typical floors and the Miller Street retail concourse upgrade.

Read Chairman Roger Poole's essay on the evolution of Bates Smart

Facebook, Sydney Fitout
Raw Energy

 “The design nurtures an environment which derives its creative energy from the culture of a start up company which never reaches maturity”

Simon Swaney

Director, Bates Smart

Bates Smart recently completed the fitout for Facebook’s Sydney office in the heart of the city's retail and business district.

Bates Smart Director Simon Swaney says, “The design embodies the youthful, energetic culture of this startup company, characterised by rapid growth and a sense of anarchy. All is able to be changed and nothing is conventional or sacred.”

The Facebook culture is characterised by interconnectivity, technology, non-conformity and youthfulness. Our design plays upon these themes, adopting a vibrant colour palette contrasted against honest raw materials, used in an unconventional way.

The concept challenges the conformity of traditional office fit-out and introduces an intervention, not for intervention sake, but to redefine, improve, and reduce the space to its simplest form.

The open workspaces are positioned in the centre of the space, encouraging connectivity with the reception, meeting rooms, breakout/hub, and staff/client bar area.

Technology is embraced and emphasised in both the workspaces and meeting rooms.

The design draws parallels with exhibition design, activating the space with artwork and design elements in a confident, non conformist manner, which reflects the Facebook philosophy and expresses the “ incomplete”.

Learn more about Facebook

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171 Collins Street
A Jewel in the City

Bates Smart Director Kristen Whittle discusses healthy workplaces and his work on 171 Collins Street, Melbourne.

"A building's performance and its ability to inspire its occupants are critical aspects of design, especially in our era of sustainability and urbanisation.

"For many of us the time spent in a workplace setting is greater than in any other space in our lives.

"Unlocking the potential of this environment is therefore of great importance to institutions and individuals alike.

"Recent studies have shown that combining social interconnectivity with natural outlook and indoor environmental qualities have the richest possibilities for health and wellbeing in architecture.

"Our recent work on 171 Collins Street office tower in Central Melbourne for Charter Hall Office REIT and CBUS Property has highlighted architecture's role in cultivating an energising and invigorating workplace environment.

"The design for 171 Collins Street has been developed directly out of the richness of its inner city location and showcase large open floor plates with unsurpassed views across Melbourne’s river corridor.

"The crystalline tower, a new ‘jewel’ in the city, will be Melbourne’s first Premium Grade office building in 20 years.

"As one of only a handful of 6 Star Green Star and 5 Star NABERS Energy rated buildings in Melbourne, the Premium Grade offer is made unique with a combined package of destination control lifts, a cutting edge under-floor air distribution system, advanced rainwater and grey water reuse and secure bike and car parking.

"171 Collins Street will be appearing on Melbourne’s skyline this year and we keenly await its final completion and official opening in 2013."

Learn more about 171 Collins Street

Visit 171 Collins Street

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Club 23 Opens
Crown Towers, Melbourne

Club 23 is a luxurious “ultra lounge” located atop Crown’s new Mahogany Room extension on Level 3 of Crown Towers Hotel, Melbourne.

Led by Interior Design Director Jeff Copolov, the Bates Smart team has distilled the essence of the world's most alluring clubs to create Melbourne's chicest ultra lounge.

Sensuous and sensational, Club 23 is a truly desirable destination, uniquely positioned to soak in the spectacular nightscape of the Yarra River promenade and city beyond.

On arrival, guests are greeted at the Crown Towers threshold of gold and bronze-latticed gates into a moody lobby space with mesmerising iridescent wall sculptures by Melbourne artist Anne Marie May and a glittering courtyard backdrop of illuminated trees.

A sequence of narrow bay windows and large glazed panels was created to punctuate the journey into the club from the entry lobby. Giant spot lit woven fabric tassels alternate with layered shimmering string window coverings to provide glimpses of the alluring city scope views.

A striking sculptural wall treatment of leather, fabric and gold tubular forms appears to unravel as it draws visitors along the corridor, around a serious of sensuous curved walls and finally to the spectacular vista that awaits their eventual arrival in the prestigious lounge.

Textured surfaces were contrasted with smooth and sleek finishes such as gold glass and bronze mirror bar tops, faceted mirror panels and gold anodised lights to create a sense of luxury and opulence. Solid timber, natural hides, antiqued brass and custom designed wool carpets add warmth and sophistication while complimenting the jewel colour palette of ruby, amber, garnet and amethyst.

The main space features a stunning 4 metre illuminated handcrafted light feature designed by Bates Smart. This is the focal point of the space and hovers above a delicate tower of cut crystal vessels sculpted by local artist Corinna Berndt, its impact is secondary only to the spectacular panoramic vista beyond.

Since opening in November 2011 the club continues to host international and local celebrities and sports personalities.

Visit Club 23

Learn more about Bates Smart hospitality projects

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Convesso Concavo
Good Design in the Docklands Sells

Only a month after the launch of the second stage of the project, Lend Lease has sold more than 100 units in its flagship Melbourne Docklands project, Convesso Concavo.

The vast majority of the recent sales were in Concavo which launched in late October with a new branding approach.

A series of seductive interior renders directed by Bates Smart and executed by Flood Slicer are strongly featured in new lifestyle magazine style marketing brochures.

The interior renders are finely balanced with the golden panoramic city and water views.

Contemporary clean lined furniture is mixed with an eclectic collection of artifacts and textures.

An extra ‘lived in’ feel is created with a glass of wine on the kitchen bench, a handbag and shoes on the bedroom floor. Finishing touches which are not typically seen on computer renders.

A similar ‘lived in’ design philosophy was built upon for the display apartment.

The advantage of building within an actual three bedroom waterfront apartment means visitors are treated to the serene quality of light shimmering on the water, despite being in the middle of a building site. Prospective buyers are assured that the project is well underway and that they are not buying part of a scheme that may or may not get off the ground.

Convesso progress is swift with an anticipated completion date of mid 2012.

All structure for the 32 levels tower is completed and the fitout for the podium level apartments are almost completed.

The tower apartments, pool, gym and lobby fitout are under way. The Concavo tower is in the tendering process and is expected to be completed in mid 2014.

Learn more about Convesso Concavo

Visit Convesso Concavo site

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Design Competition Success
A New Era in Legal Workplace Design

Equality Transparency + Connectivity

Following a design competition Bates Smart was recently appointed for a new legal fitout for Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s Sydney offices, with fitouts in Melbourne and Perth to follow.

Corrs will be a major tenant in the new Richard Rogers designed 8 Chifley Tower in the Sydney CBD, occupying 10 levels (totalling 8,000 sqm). 

Corrs’ decision to move from its current premises in Governor Philip Tower to 8 Chifley is part of its 2015 Strategy, seeking to differentiate itself from its competitors as a “world class law firm committed to driving Australia’s competitiveness and its economic engagement with Asia”. 

Bates Smart Director Simon Swaney comments on the engagement. He says, "A key to the success of Corrs’ Strategy is to introduce cultural change through an open collaborative environment, encouraging greater communication, knowledge sharing and interaction between colleagues."  

Bates Smart's competition design sought to challenge the traditional cellular legal environment and to capitalise upon the 8 Chifley building design, which offers a series of interlinked vertical villages and open flexible floor plates.  Equality, transparency and connectivity were all major facets of the Bates Smart design.

The integrated Sydney fitout is being designed to ensure completion by early 2014, and work on the Melbourne and Perth fitouts is planned for 2013. 

Undertaking Corrs’ workplace design nationally supports Bates Smart’s strategy of becoming a leader in legal workplace fitout design, following on from the success of the Clayton Utz project at No.1 Bligh Street, Sydney and Baker and McKenzie's fitout located in 181 William Street, Melbourne.

Learn more about Bates Smart workplace interiors

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DA Approved on Bates Smart Design for Brisbane's Tallest Tower

Brisbane City Council has unanimously approved the DA for the 111 + 222 development design by Bates Smart.

Director Philip Vivian describes the project, "111 + 222 is a mixed use high rise project consisting of two buildings: a 36 level 45,000sqm commercial office building at 111 Mary Street, and a 92 level five star hotel and residential tower at 222 Margaret Street (the tallest building in Australia* with the highest occupiable penthouse).

"This project has been designed to efficiently maximise its height, delivering a building that is tall, environmentally sustainable and responds to the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane."

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Women in Architecture
Study Launched

Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership

Women have been an active and highly successful part of the architecture profession in Australia for more than a hundred years, however they remain dramatically under represented at senior management level and in professional leadership roles.

Bates Smart is one of five industry partners behind a research study aimed at understanding the issues surrounding this under representation and to propose initiatives towards change.

Dr Naomi Stead is part of a collaborative group of scholars that initiated the research. She says, "This research is by no means new. Over the years a huge amount of time, effort, thought and goodwill has gone into the matter of women's under-representation in architecture. Nevertheless the situation remains depressingly similar to what it was three decades ago.

"The challenge for us is to ask different questions, understand the issue in new ways, and most importantly to propose actions and initiatives which might begin to make a change."

As Paula Whitman noted in her landmark 2005 study ‘Going Places: The Career Progression of Women in the Architectural Profession’ at that time in Australia women graduated from architecture in roughly equal numbers to men but only 1% of company directors were women. Whitman found that women architects chose not to pursue high levels of seniority because of the sacrifices it would entail for their families and personal lives, and found a surprising number of survey respondents had actually declined a promotion at some time in their career.

Whitman’s study clearly demonstrated that there were impediments to women, not of their own making, which continued to slow and stymie their progression to the highest and most influential levels of the architecture profession.Today these impediments continue to be poorly understood by both the profession and its representative bodies.

In response to this problem, in 2010 a collaborative group of scholars from five universities across three states were successful in applying for an Australian Research Council Linkage grant for the project ‘Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work, and Leadership.’

The project will interrogate patterns of women’s participation, progression and representation in the architectural profession, paying particular attention to women’s under representation in senior management.

The research team includes Dr Naomi Stead, Professor Julie Willis, Professor Sandra Kaji-O'Grady, Professor Gillian Whitehouse, Professor Susan Savage, Dr Karen Burns, Dr Amanda Roan, and Ms Justine Clark. Gill Matthewson has been appointed to complete the project’s dedicated PhD scholarship, and is undertaking doctoral studies at the University of Queensland 2011-2014.

Learn more about the project

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Crown Towers Level 39, Southbank, Melbourne
2012 International Gaming Awards

The Bates Smart designed Level 39 has been awarded best VIP Gaming Room at the 2012 Fifth International Gaming Awards.

Level 39 of Crown Towers is the world's most luxurious VIP gaming environment, comprising four private gaming salons with the ambiance of individual penthouse apartments.

This award was judged on the facilities offered, with particular consideration given to VIP Rooms of oustanding quality of design, customer service and design features that enhance the consumer experience. 

Learn more about Level 39

Visit the Gaming Awards website

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Related Project

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In the Media
Indesign Focus on Clayton UTZ, Sydney

The Bates Smart designed Level 39 has been awarded best VIP Gaming Room at the 2012 Fifth International Gaming Awards.

Level 39 of Crown Towers is the world's most luxurious VIP gaming environment, comprising four private gaming salons with the ambiance of individual penthouse apartments.

This award was judged on the facilities offered, with particular consideration given to VIP Rooms of oustanding quality of design, customer service and design features that enhance the consumer experience. 

Learn more about Level 39

Visit the Gaming Awards website

Read more ...

Related Project

Related Articles

The Design Conversations
Philip Vivian Talks to Christoph Ingenhoven and Ray Brown

Bates Smart Director Philip Vivian talks to Christoph Ingenhoven and Architectus director Ray Brown about their project 1 Bligh Street, Sydney as part of the Australian Design Review video series.

View the conversation here:

Australian Design Review video series

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