ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Booth House reflects an important period of development in the city during the 1930s as well as the association of this area of the city with professional premises. It is an excellent and rare expression of the Functionalist style meeting a need for continuous natural light, through bands of windows, to accommodate Wool Broking activities. Such an uncompromising approach to the Functionalist tradition of office design is rare in the CBD. The building's scale, proportions and materials are contextually appropriate for its location in one of the city's most important historic streetscapes in Bridge Street and skilfully addresses its prominent corner site.

 

It breaks away from the traditional styles/building technologies of the 1930s. Its external form expresses its internal function. It reflects modifications of the Art Deco style into a more restrained Functionalist style.

 

The Building is associated with the firm Brewster Manderson who were notable architects in Sydney in the first decades of the twentieth century.

 

It is an excellent example of the Functionalist style responding to user needs at the time of its construction. It addressed its prominent corner site skilfully and despite its "modernity" blends well with the sandstone public buildings of upper Bridge Street to contribute to a distinguished townscape precinct. The building's scale, level of detail, and selection of materials are appropriate within its Bridge Street context. The framed structure was designed to permit large horizontal expanses of glazing with load bearing brick spandrels.

 

There were not many Functionalist style offices built in the Sydney CBD and few survive with such an intact exterior as the former Booth House. Red Cross House is similar but in need of repair. The Telford Trust building was originally of similar design but has been altered by new spandrel materials.

 

The building frontages to Bridge and Young are highly intact apart from changes to the ground floor entry and the addition of a corner doorway to the ground floor restaurant. The later conversions to residential/office space reflect important changing uses in the CBD.

 

The former Booth House is of such high significance any proposal for future works of a substantial nature should be carried out in accordance with a conservation plan. The existing form and scale of the building should be preserved.

Exterior: Future development should preserve the existing materials and details on all facades, including painted steel and copper window suites. Interior: Future development should preserve intact internal fabric including the steel and timber stair, in accordance with the Conservation Plan. Given that the interiors have been extensively remodelled and little significant fabric remains intact, adaptive reuse that maintains the original spatial quality should be appropriate provided the work does not impact on the surviving external fabric. The building should be retained and conserved.

A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

 

It was a heritage item in 1989 and remains so to the present.

Heritage Listing: Local Environmental Plan Sydney LEP 2012 I1686 14 Dec 12

Mentions: Circular Quay Heritage Study, 1985; Building, pp18-19, 24 Sept. 1938; Building, 24 Oct. 1938, pp102-103; Decoration & Glass, Oct. 1938, p11ff; (journals); 'Australian Architecture 1901-1951', D. L. Johnson, (text).

Australian Heritage Commission National Estate Register entry

 

 

Booth House was declared a heritage item in 1989 and remains so to the present.

 

High Significance: External building form, scale and materials of the facade.

Medium Significance: Internal stairs, concrete encased steel columns and beams, concrete floors.

Physical description: The nine-storey former Booth House is an intact example of the Inter-war Functionalist style office building. It is one of only a few such office buildings in Sydney's CBD. As characterised by this style, its form clearly reflects its function. The streamlined exterior and subtle finish at roof level combine to emphasise the form of the building. The horizontally banded brick and glass facade which curves around the corner is supported by a steel and concrete frame. Decorative granite cladding at the Bridge Street ground level emphasises the main entrance. The remaining ground level is clad in rusticated sandstone, which is an unusual material to be found on such a stylistically advanced building. The windows of the ground and lower ground floor are highly detailed with copper came glazing. The interiors have been substantially altered, particularly due to the conversion of several spaces for residential occupation in 1980 and their gradual conversion back to commercial spaces in the following years. Each floor is divided into three areas by rendered brick walls. These areas are further divided by plasterboard stud walls with suspended ceilings.

 

Architects: Brewster and Manderson

Builder: William Hughes & Co.

Style: Inter-War Functionalist

Storeys: Nine + basement

Facade: Face brick, glass, sandstone, granite cladding, copper clad mullions & painted steel window frames.

Side/Rear Walls: Face brick, sandstone. Internal Walls: Plastered brick, plasterboard and stud.

Roof Cladding: Concrete paving units, waterproof membrane

Internal Structure: Steel and concrete column & beam

Floor: Reinforced concrete slab.

Roof: Reinforced concrete slab.

Ceilings: Suspended plasterboard.

Stairs: Reinforced concrete stairs, decorative steel baluster with timber handrail.

Fire Stairs: 1

Sprinkler System: Yes

Lifts: 1