‘Between a rock and a hard place’: calls to save nationally significant Sydney building

02 August 2020 .

The issue with preserving our modernist architecture is tied up in the dichotomy between longevity and innovation.  Can our accepted conservation rules be applied to these buildings particularity with respect to material conservation? Can authentic fabric be conserved without compromising the original design intent, which had been driven in a large part by a desire for social reform? But as we try to solve the philosophical conundrum of what to value and what to save, the buildings are rapidly deteriorating and often becoming financially obsolete. Lack of public support has sometime hampered efforts to protect modern heritage buildings with listings driven primarily by the architectural community.

The MLC Building on Miller Street in North Sydney, is a landmark modernist skyscraper, currently at risk of being demolished. But as this article by Angus Thompson outlines, the argument for the conservation of this important building is a good example of this exact dilemma. In this case, the architect of the original building, Bates Smart is also the architect of the building’s proposed replacement.


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