York & George - Preserving the Past, Building the Future

York & George - Preserving the Past, Building the Future

Sydney’s George Street is its premier thoroughfare, synonymous with the city’s earliest days of colonial settlement, as is its perpendicular neighbour, York Street. Both have remained home to significant examples of 18th and 19th century architecture as the city has grown around them into a commercial capital.

It therefore goes without saying that the intersection of these two historic streets represents not only an important historical link to Sydney’s past but as a significant landmark for its present and future.

The York and George development represents what can be achieved when planners, architects, engineers and developers embrace a precinct’s past while taking a site into the future.

About York and George

This major development consists of 38 storeys, with a seven-storey mixed use podium structure at ground level to accommodate retail and commercial businesses as well as 199 luxury residential units in a modern tower above and three basements for parking and back of house facilities.

Calibre Group was brought on board as a consultant during the design, tender and construction stages of the project to help manage the unique challenges posed by the site.

The challenges

When history meets modernity there are bound to be conflicts of interest. York and George straddles two heritage buildings, Carlton House and Spiden House, both of which had suffered from unsympathetic alterations and, in the case of Spiden House, fire damage.

The project has a number of complexities, not the least being embracing the protection, restoration and adaptive re-use of the heritage buildings on the site were among the challenges that faced all professionals involved on the project.

Not only did the design have to hold up eight storeys of heritage buildings, the location of the site at the busy heart of Sydney’s CBD meant disruption to neighbouring businesses had to be minimised and the potential for damage to adjacent structures negated.

It was necessary to excavate under the heritage buildings and underpin them, repair fire damage to Spiden House and restore the hand carved timber, cast iron and concrete columns.

Vibrations caused by the railway tunnels under York Street complicated matters for engineers, as did the need for different transfers to meet the different support requirements of the residential and retail parts of the development.

It created a big challenge for the structural engineers and added to the complexity and cost of the build.

Calibre’s engineers had to do “engineering gymnastics” to ensure the vastly differing requirements were met.

Complicating matters was a change in the development’s purpose from entirely commercial to mostly residential due to changes in the marketplace.

It took agility on the part of Calibre’s engineers to enable the switch from residential to retail in the development’s tower which included determining how to transition the building’s core after construction had started. This was achieved by developing a special ring beam structure.

The Calibre team also designed and carried out the temporary works to create a construction deck at ground level that enabled trucks to park on sire without obstructing traffic. This required the team to develop different solutions to meet the unique needs of of each the site’s perimeters.


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