Sydney Architecture Images- Central Business District

Virgin Megastore  (former Commercial Banking Company and National Australia Bank)


Kent and Massie


343 George Street




Inter-War Commercial Palazzo


stone cladding


Westpac Bank and (former) National Australia Bank
These two bank buildings terminate the vista down Martin Place to George Street.
343 George Street is historically significant as the former headquarters of one of the leading banks in New South Wales, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd., which had occupied this site since the 1850s until its merger with the National Bank in the 1980s.

The design and execution, scale, form and materials of this building combine to present an extremely fine expression of the qualities and aspirations of a leading, well established and respected bank from the 1920s at a time when great confidence and trust was placed in banks such as the CBC.

The building is significant as a good and early example of the Commercial Palazzo style. The Ground Floor, Lower Ground Floor Safe Deposit Vault and area, and surviving original interiors of the executive areas are exceptionally fine and rare examples of design and craftsmanship of their period, The Banking Chamber and Safe Deposit area are the finest and most intact marble finished bank interiors from the early 20th century in Sydney, the only comparable interiors being the Westpac Bank next door, and the former State Savings Bank in Martin Place, both of which depend in large part on faux marble ('scagliola') for their effect. The principle Ground and Lower Ground Floor spaces are fitted with a collection of exceptionally fine and now rare Australian marbles. The circular Chubb Safe Deposit Vault door is the earliest, as well as one of only two, doors of its type in Australia, the other also being in Sydney.

The elegant grandeur of the banking chamber space with its fine marble and bronze finishes and fittings and the play of natural and artificial light within it evoke the stature, role and functions of one of Sydney's former leading banking institutions.

The building was designed by architects Kent and Massie and is arguably the finest commercial building to be produced by this partnership. It was built by the firm of Stuart Brothers. Both firms made prominent contributions to Sydney's architecture in the first half of the 20th century.

Together with its neighbour, the Westpac Bank, and other nearby significant building of the 19th and early 20th centuries, 343 George Street forms part of an imposing group which visually closes the western end of Martin Place and the north side of Barrack Street. (Design 5 Architects, 2002)

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