AWA Building

Location: 45-47 York Street, Sydney
1939 - Whilst Culwulla Chambers is six metres taller than the AWA Building minus its tower, with the tower added, AWA is taller and was therefore bestowed the honour of being Sydney's tallest between 1939 and 1967. Between the world wars, Australia enjoyed a vigorous period of growth, spurred on by a major migrant intake, and a worldwide sweep of technological development. At the forefront of the latter in Australia was Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA), a broadcaster and manufacturer of radios, record players and other electrical equipment.

The company's head office head office, with its lattice steel broadcasting tower on top, reflected the company's success and became a well known landmark in the city. Completed just before World War II and built to the 46 metres height limit of the day, it is a brick-faced building with projecting vertical ribs and parapet decoration in the form of a Pegasus in bass relief, the Pegasus being the company's logo. It features a marble clad lift foyer and stairs, timber panelled foyer with wall decorations in relief and a tiled mosaic of a Pegasus laid in the floor.

The building is comprised of 12 office floors, a ground floor and basement. The frontage along York Street is 18.3 metres and 21.3 metres along York Lane. The building is surmounted by a steel tower which gives the building an overall height of 111 metres above street level. The building is steel framed and faced in brick with polished trachyte facing at the ground floor. The building is vertically modelled to give a skyscraper appearance. A Pegasus is depicted in relief sculpture on a plain brick parapet at the top of the building. Pegasus, a winged horse, was chosen by Sir Ernest Fisk as a suitable association with the work of Australia's great wireless undertaking. The building retains the original Fisk system of double glazed windows. The communications tower was designed as an integral part of the building and its supports are part of the structure of the building.

The York Street Entry Foyer and Lift Lobby is faced with Wombeyan Russet marble with simple Art Deco streamlined detail and the letter AWA over the entrance. The former Vestibule (main ground floor) interior retains its silver ash timber panelling. Above the panelling there is a series of symbolic plaster relief's executed by Otto Steen. Three relief's comprise three 'themes'. In each corner are figures representing the four ancient elements - earth, water, fire and air. Over the entrance surrounding an AWA symbol are the signs of the zodiac. A series of small relief's along the north and south walls represent various nations, symbolising the unification of the world throughout radio. (Graham Alcock Giles Tribe) The former Entrance Lobby interior retains a map of the world incised into the polished trachyte wall above the auditorium doors.

Other significant interiors include the fifth floor Boardroom, ancillary offices and executive bathroom.

The tower was modelled on Berlin's Funkturm Tower, built a few years earlier, and both took inspiration from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The building is decorated with appropriate symbols of communication, including a winged Pegasus, said to be chosen by Sir Ernest Fisk, the pioneer of wireless technology and a founding director of AWA. For many years, the tower wore the sign Beam Wireless, a service providing radio contact to commercial shipping on the England Australia route introduced in 1927.

The communications tower was an integral part of the structure and remained the tallest structure in Sydney (other than the Sydney Harbour Bridge) until the 1960s. The tower is 46 metres (151 ft) high atop a 55-metre (180 ft) high building. The tower was 48 metres, and at the 97-metre point of the building there was a viewing platform.

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