Tower changes city skyline
Tower changes city skyline

When the newly named Brookfield Place Perth tower is completed, it will be the first major skyscraper to grace the city's skyline in 20 years.

Described conversely as a slab and a statement of the city's growth, the 45-storey building within the City Square precinct will be Perth's third highest, thanks to a 37m-high steel "tiara" crowning its frame.

"I think it's going to be a really successful building, particularly in terms of its ground-level ambience," State Government architect Steve Woodland said.

"The progress of the city in terms of its ground is equally as important as its skyline.

"The way in which larger city buildings have engaged with the ground plane and people is the thing that has really changed over time."

Mr Woodland, who worked on the Central Park tower, said much of the high-rise of the 1970s - the AMP Building, St Martins Tower and Governor Stirling Tower - featured open plazas with empty lobbies.

He said it was buildings such as Council House that successfully integrated a landscaped setting, offering a "generosity of space" for people to use.

Tracing Perth's high-rise history, City of Perth data show the nine-storey Perth GPO was a stand-out on the landscape when it was built in 1923.

This was followed in 1937 by the 11-storey Lawson Apartments on The Esplanade and Gledden Building, on the corner of Hay and William streets, which remained the tallest commercial building in the city until 1954.

Heritage Perth executive director Richard Offen said from 1870 until the first gold rush, the Perth Town Hall was as high as the skyline.

"The only other fairly high building in the pre-gold rush town would have been the spire of Wesley Church," he said.

Since then the evolution of Perth's skyline has been marked by such projects as Parmelia House (the first 20-storey building), AMP Building (30 storeys) and St Martins Tower (34 storeys).

More recently, the city has seen the 52-storey Bankwest tower (built in 1988) and Central Park (1992).

City Vision chairman and architect Ken Adam said a lack of demand for floor space was the main reason skyscrapers were few and far between.

However, the "prestige" factor also played a role in bringing on new development.

Mr Adam said when the AMP and St Martins buildings opened in the 1970s, they soaked up demand for five years.

"It was not economic for anyone to build tall buildings at a time when Sydney and Melbourne were," he said.

Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief Debra Goostrey predicted it would be a decade before the next major tower was built.

"Over time we will see more high-rise," she said. "But, in the short term finance is not supplying more high-rise."

While Mr Adam said Brookfield Place Perth was "not bad", Ms Goostrey said it was a "very clever design" in that the glass exterior made good use of views.

The City of Perth said new planning measures would allow for taller buildings, particularly along St Georges Terrace.

However, it would depend on factors such as lot size, views and market conditions.

All buildings must comply with a 300m aviation height limit.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said people should not be afraid of high-rise.

"I truly love it," she said of Brookfield Place

"Yes, it's imposing on our skyline but what a statement that is for such a powerful company," she said.

BHP Billiton, which has leased 80 per cent of the tower, and Barrick Gold are expected to move into their offices next month.

it's going to be a really successful building, particularly in terms of its ground-level ambience

" *State Government architect *


  • Steve Woodland *

The West Australian

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