Deutsche Bank PlaceLocation: 126 Phillip Street, Sydney
1997-2005: At the time of its completion, it was the second-tallest building in the world with fewer than 40 floors - Al Faisaliyah Center (Riyadh) is taller. Construction began in 2002 and was completed in 2005. The building has 39 floors and was planned to be much larger, however it would have blocked sunlight from reaching the buildings on its east including the State Library and Parliament. The setback roof or step design allows sunlight to reach the south-eastern side of the building. The spires appear oversized for the building; this was caused by the height being reduced, the spires being proportionate to a taller building. The building has a hollow core that provides air and light throughout the building; this core rises from a large foyer area that covers the whole area of the ground floor. The foyer is named 'the assembly'.
39 storeys. Height: 240 metres (including tower).
London's Foster and Partners has been a leader in the exploration of innovative designs for office buildings since the inception of the practice, commencing with the Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters (1971 1975) in Ipswich, moving to high-rise projects such as the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters (1979 1986) in Hong Kong and the Commerzbank Headquarters (1991 1997) in Frankfurt. Since the design of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, the practice has continued to redefine the nature of the office tower and to explore ways in which it can respond to the context and the spirit of the city in which it stands.
This thirty-one-storey building, located on a prominent site close to Sydney Harbour, explores new strategies for flexible, column-free office space and creates a new 'urban room' in the city's dense central business district. The building's unusual design and distinctive profile were guided by number of factors, including the narrow site, the need for large open floor plates, and exacting planning regulations that protected the amount of sunlight falling on two nearby public spaces.
At ground level a 15-metre-high covered plaza, known as the 'assembly', has been created beneath the tower, resulting from Foster and Partners belief that 'buildings should contribute to the public life of a city'. This soaring, light-filled space functions as a busy public square. A prelude to the office lobbies, it also contains shops, cafes and a creche. The central water feature that runs the length of the space can be controlled to enable all kinds of activities, including fashion shows and parties to take place there at any time of day.
The building's orientation exploits a number of environmental factors and maximises views across the Harbour. Daylight is drawn into the office levels and down through the building via an atrium, which runs the full height of the tower between the core and the office floors and is crossed by a series of bridges. Movement through the building is clarified and celebrated, the atrium and lobbies being both physically and psychologically removed from the workplace. The main structural core is offset to the lower, western edge of the site and consists of two towers, which provide the main stiffening elements and act as solar buffers. To permit greater flexibility in planning office layouts, curtain walling on the three glazed facades has been turned 'inside out' with mullions and transoms placed externally.
The lack of a significant structural core as well as its offset location created an interesting challenge in achieving lateral stability for the building. The solution was a composite structure whereby the tower columns and floor plates have been designed as a braced frame, which acts together with the core to create the lateral stability. The architects have expressed this unusual structural system on the facade as a three-storey, V-shaped chevron superstructure. The chevron profile creates a play of light and shade that accentuates the superstructure, giving the building a muscular and honest aesthetic, in contrast to the curvaceous skin of Renzo Piano s nearby Aurora Place.
The superstructure continues above the building to create a roof feature in the form of a triangulated exoskeleton, the angle of which is dictated by the solar access plane to Martin Place. The original concept was for the roof element to contain a glazed biosphere with plants to cleanse and recycle air from the building. This would have incorporated another Foster theme of integrating sky gardens into their buildings; however, it was eliminated to meet the cost plan and, ironically, to comply with the City of Sydney s regulations for roof features, leaving the building with a hollow and meaningless gesture on its roof. The superstructure and roof feature do, however, create a distinctive skyline profile for the building, giving it more presence than its modest 31 levels would otherwise have allowed, as well as creating a transition in scale between the towers at the northern end of the city and the lower-scale buildings around Martin Place.