Façade Engineering Award of Excellence: Sixty Martin Place, Sydney

Beres Dowdle
Director
Surface Design Pty Ltd, Sydney

Mark Tait
Group Executive & Head of Commercial Development
Investa Property, Sydney

A Context-Specific Façade that Frames Heritage Buildings

Sixty Martin Place sits at the eastern end of Martin Place in Sydney, overlooking heritage buildings on Macquarie Street. Navigating the interplay of aesthetic styles and façade forms is a cardinal requirement for high-rises being constructed near historic buildings. The project’s approach is exemplified in its contextual relationship to St. Stephen’s Church directly north, a 1935 Interwar Gothic completion. A strategy unfolded to frame St. Stephen’s: agreements on airspace were mutually reached to allow a cantilever and increased floor space. The building’s five-story atrium melts into the upper façade, which gradually increases in width as it ascends, highlighting the church’s spire, and revealing the previously obscured south façade of St. Stephen’s Church.

The south façade was prefabricated as a curtain wall with multiple components, including a double-glazed system, spandrel, and tenant ventilation. The glass blades are laminated with a ceramic frit on the inner face, which is based on 25 photographs of marble slices, distributed through a Grasshopper software script across the façade, so that no two identical slices are adjacent. The locally sourced Piles Creek Sandstone used in the podium is configured to match the offset upper glass façade fins.

To create the north façade, control curves were established that sat within the developed envelope, which helped define the grid as a prelude to panel definition. The computational model was developed to ensure a constant overlap and width, so mullions continue vertically, while the curved surface is constructed with flat panels. Internal blinds are controlled through pre-programmed positioning that responds to the sun’s angle, shade from adjacent buildings, and rooftop weather, achieving a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.15 when fully deployed.

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