Sydney Architecture Images- Central Business District

Commonwealth Bank Building


Johnson Pilton Walker with Tanner Kibble Denton Architects.
Developer- Cbus and Dexus. Builder Grocon.


5 Martin Place 


1916. Redeveloped 2014.


Federation Free Classical Renaissance Palazzo


Facade granite 157 ft 48 m 12 floors This was the first large scale all steel-framed skyscraper in Australia. The first steel-framed highrise was the 9 storey Nelson House on Clarence Street built in 1910. A proposal consisted of a tower building built atop the existing 1916 bank building. The tower had a unique barrel shaped top. The project was shelved in 1988 due to the engineering difficulties in reinforcing the existing 70 year old bank to hold the massive structure.


Above- the completed project. Very stately. It really fits in with the existing Martin Place streetscape very well (a good thing in this case).
Note the salvaged 1960s sculptures.
Above- original architectural renderings (copyright architect)
Previously on the site-
The rigid op art puzzle of the enormous Josef Albers work Wrestling on the facing wall in the neighbouring Modernist MLC Centre (Seidler) previously created an interesting space.
This artwork was very well thought of in the seventies. (link- )
Through history-
as at 31 December 2013

With the 44% pre-commitment by Ashurst, construction has commenced on the redevelopment of this property. On completion in early 2015, the project will comprise a 19-level Premium-grade office building with circa 33,800 sqm of net lettable area. It is located in the core precinct of Sydney’s CBD, with frontages to Pitt Street, Martin Place and Rowe Street.

Martin Place 'money box' to be redeveloped
August 5, 2011 Carolyn Cummins SMH

COMMONWEALTH BANK'S famous ''money box'' building at 120 Pitt Street/5 Martin Place has partially changed hands, with the industry superannuation fund Cbus buying a half share for $42.3 million.
It is the second big deal for the bank's Commonwealth Property Office Fund (CPA) in the past two weeks, after it sold down its stake in the 259 George Street site for $395 million to the private group, Metrocorp.
The fund will use the cash from all the deals to retire debt and buy other ''core'' assets that may become available.
The site, on which the former Commonwealth Bank's famous tin money boxes were modelled, is to be redeveloped, which CPA and Cbus will jointly finance. The estimated cost is more than $405 million.
At the end of the project, nine floors will have been added to the side of the heritage building, that runs down Martin Place and around the corner in Pitt Street. It was one of the first properties built in the CBD.
Cbus has also agreed to take on the option - for no upfront cost - of a 50 per cent stake in the fund's asset, 8 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. That building is valued at between $280 million and $300 million and Cbus will pay market value when a deal is completed.
Macquarie Equities' property analysts said the combined sales will help reduce CPA's gearing to about 16 per cent, which is very low against its peers.
''CPA has previously noted it is considering a range of capital management initiatives, including special distribution or acquisition opportunities,'' Macquarie Equities' analysts said.
Under the deal, CPA and Cbus will jointly assume leasing and development risk for the duration of the project. Part of that will be to have at least 30 per cent of the property committed for lease before the redevelopment begins in earnest.
The sale is part of the Commonwealth Bank's decision to consolidate, and then relocate, all its Sydney city-based staff into the new properties at Darling Harbour, known as Commonwealth Bank Place.


Money boxes ... the tin, right, was modelled on Commonwealth Bank's then head office in Pitt Street. The tin, left, was a model of the bank's building at 48 Martin Place.
SPOT the difference … a sharp-eyed reader brought our attention to a blunder in yesterday's story about plans to add a dome roof to the Commonwealth Bank building, which has been the model for money boxes issued by the bank.
The pictured money tin, right, was not the replica of the 48 Martin Place site referred to. It was modelled on the bank's then head office, 100 metres down the road on the corner of Pitt Street. The green and gold money box was first issued in 1922 and sold for sixpence. It has been the bank's flagship money box for 90 years.
The ''pink palace'' money box, left, was issued after the 1931 takeover of the Government Savings Bank of NSW and its former head office at the number 48 site.
Source- SMH.

A NEW CURRENCY: 1900–1920

Formation of the Commonwealth Bank

With Federation, the Commonwealth Government acquired the power to make laws in respect of banking and currency. Establishment of a 'Commonwealth Bank of Issue, Deposit, Exchange and Reserve', became part of Labor Party policy.

Later, in 1908, the Labor Party Conference discussed detailed proposals by King O'Malley for a government-owned bank which would issue currency notes and also conduct the Government's accounts, manage its debt and hold the reserves of the banking system.

Photograph of King O'Malley, Federal Minister for Home Affairs, at the naming of Canberra ceremony, 1913Mr O'Malley, elected to the first Federal Parliament as a representative from Tasmania, had been a long-term proponent of a central bank. He wanted 'a Bank of Australia to be in Australia what the Bank of England is in England'.


Photograph showing opening of new Head Office in Martin Place in 1916Sydney was selected as the centre for the Bank's head office and by January 1913 branches in all state capital cities, Canberra, Townsville and London had been established.

A new Head Office in Martin Place was opened in 1916. The building served as a model for the Bank's home savings money box.


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Despite earlier proposals, when established in 1912 the Commonwealth Bank was not given a central banking role, not even responsibility for issuing currency notes.

Photograph of Governor Denison MillerImage showing official Commission of Denison Miller to the position of GovernorWith the passing of the Commonwealth Bank Act in 1911, the search for a suitable Governor of the Bank concluded with the appointment of Denison SK Miller in May 1912. Governor Miller was appointed for a seven year term at an annual salary of £4 000, over $1 million in terms of today's earnings.

World War I provided significant opportunities for the development of the Commonwealth Bank. It boosted the Bank's role in the distribution of currency notes and in organising finance for Australia's war effort.

Photograph showing First Peace Loan campaignPhotograph showing Armistice celebrations

Thanks to