Pontiac Land Group today lodged its Development Application for the transformation of Sydney’s cherished “Sandstones”, the Lands and Education buildings, into one of the finest luxury hotels in the world. The adaptation of the two buildings, which occupy two city blocks in the Sandstone Precinct along Bridge Street, will guarantee their preservation and set a new benchmark for hotels and hospitality in Australia.
Pontiac Land Group, a Singapore-based privately-held company whose portfolio includes iconic heritage redevelopments, luxury real estate, art and world class architecture, was awarded the rights to a 103-year lease by the NSW Government last year for adaptive re-use of the Sandstones into tourist accommodation. A Stage 1 Concept Plan Approval was granted to Government Property last year, allowing a change of use for hotel and tourism purposes, a three-storey addition to the Education Building and a subterranean link beneath Loftus St.
Internationally renowned Make Architects, already familiar to Sydneysiders through their inspired reinvention of the Wynyard Station precinct, was appointed to refine the Stage 2 design of the hotel and adjacent Farrer Place public domain. Collaborating on the project are landscape architects Aspect Studios and interior design firm BAR Studio.
Pontiac Land Group Director Kwee Liong Keng said the company looks forward to the opportunity to build a world-leading hotel in Sydney and, in doing so, forge closer ties with Australia. “Sydney is a great city and every great world city should feature a grand hotel,” said Mr Kwee. “Our aim is to create the grand hotel that Sydney deserves and will be proud to have.”
Sandstone Development Director Greg Incoll said the $300 million development will, for the first time ever, make two of Sydney’s most important public buildings open and accessible to the public. “These magnificent buildings have held a commanding presence in Sydney for more than a century but the vast majority of people have only experienced them from the outside,” said Mr Incoll. “Pontiac Land Group is not only preserving the heritage of two buildings rich in social and economic significance, but making a valuable contribution to Sydney’s tourism economy.”
The developer and project team have spent the past two years crafting the Government’s initial vision into a plan that would enhance the property but remain true to the city and its aspirations for the buildings. “Our goal was to sensitively bring these heritage buildings to life and tastefully update them for a new era and purpose,” said Mr Incoll.
Make’s lead architect Ian Lomas said the proposed form of the buildings had been developed through careful study of the original architectural intent, while adding a crafted and elegant 21st century layer. “We have explored the buildings’ shared social and physical heritage, respectfully and deferentially weaving in our new layer while embracing the spirit of invention, exploration and discovery that is part of Sydney and these buildings’ DNA. In creating Sydney’s grand hotel, we will be opening up these historic spaces as the city’s drawing room, while for the first time providing equitable access throughout.”
The public will be invited to enjoy a unique retail and dining destination created with carefully curated partners at the ground level of the Lands Building, with a direct lift allowing them to appreciate its magnificent rooftop. In the Education Building, the main Farrer Place entrance will lead to a grand brasserie, lobby lounge and verdant central courtyard.
The fifth facade is celebrated in both buildings through a series of pavilions and landscaped terraces across the roofscape, offering iconic views of Sydney Harbour that have survived despite the encircling of tall towers all around. Approximately 253 rooms and suites are envisaged with 61 in the Lands Building and 192 in the Education Building.
Mr Incoll said Pontiac Land Group was uniquely qualified to undertake the reinvention of the Sandstones into one of the great hotels of the world. “Pontiac Land Group has a track record in delivering complex projects, successfully integrating heritage, luxury hospitality and top end destination retail,” said Mr Incoll. “This expertise has produced a collection of timeless masterpieces to which the Sandstones will be a proud addition.”
About the Lands Building
Under the proposal, the Lands Building will offer a more intimate and sophisticated experience with grandly proportioned heritage suites. The Bridge Street level is opened up to the city, with reinstatement of the original carriage loop to Gresham Street, taking visitors through the landscape of vaults, garden courts and arcades. At the centre is the domed strong room that rises the height of the building, and in which the maps and charts of the colony were stored. At roof level the landscape of domes and towers are protected and secured, while the later plant enclosures and ancillary roofs are replaced by a delicate structure, providing full access to these unexpected and unique volumes.
About the Education Building
Here the stage is set for civic engagement, beginning with the arrival from a rejuvenated Farrer Place, leading through the grand entrance into an unexpected garden at the heart of the building, adjoined by an elegant brasserie and lounge, as well as unique event salons. Within the original sandstone building, each of the generous guest rooms opens out on to their own wintergarden, while above, the new extension is formed of two floors of rippling glass window bays, topped by a recessed floor of villas, terraces and gardens; re-imagining the roof as a green landscape in counterpoint to the picturesque architectural composition of the Lands Building.
About Pontiac Land Group
Pontiac Land Group is a leading real estate company with over half a century of expertise and experience in luxury property development. With the engagement of a select team of internationally renowned, Pritzker Prize award-winning architects and designers who share the group’s values and commitment to excellence, Pontiac Land Group comprises
commercial, residential, hospitality, retail and medical assets. Strategically located in prime districts, each distinct architectural achievement complements and enriches its living spaces with world-class art collections. The Group’s portfolio includes: five-star hotels The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Capella Singapore, Conrad Centennial Singapore, Regent Singapore, a Four Seasons Hotel; iconic skyscrapers Millenia Tower and Centennial Tower; luxury residences The Colonnade, Ardmore Residence and HANA; premier retail mall Millenia Walk; as well as the private and exclusive Camden Medical Centre, home to medical and healthcare specialists. The firm is also developing its first project in the United States, 53 W. 53rd Street, a luxury residential tower set to rise next to New York’s world-renowned Museum of Modern Art.