Significance of 21 December 2015 for Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel and Fairfax
John Fairfax & Sons
The original building on this site dates back to 1856 when it was home to John Fairfax & Sons, publishers of Australia’s oldest surviving newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald. The original stone clad building was designed in Italianate style by architects Goold & Hillings and consisted of three storeys and a basement.
An extension building was constructed between 1922 and 1929. Architects Manson & Pickering designed the building in the inter-war renaissance palazzo style using Bondi sandstone and Bowral trachyteto clad one of Sydney’s earliest concrete frame structures. Erected by Stuart Brothers builders and standing at nine levels with a basement the building was restricted to 150 feet (50 metres) in height by the Height of Buildings Act which limited the upward growth of Sydney between 1913 and 1956. The cupola typifies the efforts of architects to add an illusion of height to city building during that period.
Bank of New South Wales
Fairfax Press shared the upper floors of the building with commercial tenancies, many of who remained after the sale of the building in 1954 to the Bank of New South Wales, now known as Westpac. The last edition of the Sydney Morning Herald was written, sub-edited and typeset at this site on the 21st December 1955.
Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney
The Walter Construction Group carried out a number of adaptive works on the building between 1998 and 2000 with the culmination of the intimate, boutique style, five-star Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney opening in July 2000.
The cupola weighing some 920 tonnes was raised 3.9 metres to its current level to maintain the aesthetic balance of the building that by now incorporated three additional levels. Whilst the interior was completely redeveloped some important architectural features were retained. The original offices of Sir Warwick and Sir James Fairfax on the Mezzanine level were restored and are now beautiful meeting rooms.
The 362 guestrooms and suites were designed in a contemporary but elegant style to beautifully complement the stunning heritage sandstone façade. The original lavish public hall at the Hunter street entry is now home to Bistro Fax Restaurant & Bar. In1928 there was a gymnasium on the roof; the Health Club is now located on the Mezzanine level In 2010 and coinciding with the hotel’s 10th birthday year, the hotel undertook a multimillion dollar redesign program transforming the lobby including reception, concierge, the lounge and the hotel’s signature restaurant.
Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney
2010 – Present
Following a transformation of the public spaces in 2010, the hotel was also re-branded by Carlson as a Radisson Blu. This was part of a corporate re-alignment which saw this flagship property for Asia Pacific take on the mantle of one of a handful of hotels worldwide to meet the standards required for this developing brand.
In September 2015, Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney unveiled the first phase of its $12 million redesign, the first major update of its guest rooms and function spaces since it opened in 2000.
Acclaimed Sydney architects Bates Smart undertook the re-design for Radisson Blu, which focused on the function and meeting rooms, and the two authentically restored heritage rooms aptly named Sir James and Sir Warwick which once housed their offices. The Lady Fairfax room, located on the entry level, is now popular for its high tea service but can also serve as an event space.
The second phase of the Radisson Blu re-design will see a complete refresh of all 336 guestrooms and 28 suites, with new silk fabrics and contemporary chrome and metal-blue colour schemes, stylish chevron patterning reflected in the lighting and upgrades to the fittings in the building’s original marble bathrooms. The Presidential Suite will be divided into two rooms, bringing the total number of guestrooms to 364. The re-design will complement the two-hatted Bentley Restaurant and Bar, which found its contemporary new home within the majestic façade and grander space of the hotel in 2013.