Harry Seidler years: My $5 million North Apartments bounty
Hiromi: “At the time of North Apartments’ development, Greg Malouf, owner of real estate agency Nationwide, owned the land and was advised that if he was to have any chance of achieving extra floor space ratio (FSR) from the City of Sydney for a for-profit development, he would have to get Harry Seidler or an equivalently famous architect on board, so he came to see Harry Seidler.
“The site, on Goulburn Street, opposite the Masonic Centre and next to the Family Law Court, runs east to west and Harry Seidler and my boss, partner Peter Hirst, took a look at it. They considered that because there was only one open aspect available onto the street, and the rest was surrounded by buildings, that they could get only three apartments per floor from it.
“Where, technically, it would have been possible to put windows on the west side, the City of Sydney wouldn’t allow us to do it, because if the Mandarin Club to the west was ever demolished and a tall building were to replace it, those windows wouldn’t get any sun.
“They thought there was nothing else they can do, it’s either three units per floor or two, but I thought, hang on, probably I can put four in there. Harry didn’t especially like the idea at first because the design could never be optimal if an apartment didn’t have direct sun and had to borrow sunlight from the living room.
“Yet, considering the site was in the south of the city and the lifestyles of the people who lived there meant they were only really there to sleep and the units didn’t really have any life in the daytime, why not accept the compromise?
“This worked so well that the developer could get an extra $550,000 apartment on each of eleven floors, yet within the existing Sydney City Council FSR.”
“So, we raised the back of each unit to 450mm, above which a bedroom could still have a view towards the north, which, prior to the Civic Centre being built above the Masonic Centre, made for a really nice view. This worked so well that Greg Malouf could get an extra $550,000 apartment on each floor, yet still remaining within the existing FSR. On each of eleven floors, times $550,000, that makes five to six million dollars’ difference.
“Harry explained it to the client by saying she comes from Japan and has a better idea about designing for shoebox living. I think the client was surprised, as architects don’t normally work to make money for developers, they principally consider they are there to help them do nice things. But in my case, I was able to do both.
“Unrelated specifically to North Apartments, I always think architects should work to make money for the client.”
If you are interested in Hiromi’s work for Harry Seidler, please also read:
NOTE: Clearly, Shiro Architects is not at liberty to use Harry Seidler and Associates’ proprietary images in its own promotion, but there are plenty available to link to in the public domain, and this is one of North Apartments from just such a public source.