Sturt Street building respects Ballarat's heritage streetscape and reflects our built past

Recycled brick: 25,000 recycled red bricks were used in creating the facade. Picture: Lachlan Bence.
Recycled brick: 25,000 recycled red bricks were used in creating the facade. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

A new building opening on Sturt Street at the top end of the CBD pays homage to Ballarat’s red brick and mortar heritage while offering a modern interior, say its designers.

Developers MacNeil Group  purchased the vacant block at 909 Sturt Street with a view to reinvigorating the site opposite the Ballarat Base Hospital by drawing inspiration from the wealth of Victorian architecture still extant in the city.

Built as a speculative development, MacNeil Group director Paul McCuskey says the building has drawn interest – and tenants – from its early stages.

He says the developers and designers worked closely with Ballarat City Council to achieve a building that stood out yet was sympathetic to the built heritage of the street and precinct.

“They (council) were keen yo have an iconic building on this site in Sturt Street; they are very keen for the building outcomes in Sturt Street and the CBD to be of very good quality,” McCuskey says.

“When you are doing a building that has to respect its past, it’s important that you do it well. There are a lot of examples of poor reproduction architecture, so we put a lot of time and resources into this building to ensure a good outcome.”

Modern interior: the building's interior is a modern and fluid office space, say the developers. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Modern interior: the building's interior is a modern and fluid office space, say the developers. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Initial tenants, financial advisers and accountants Crowe Horwarth Australasia, say the new building gives them room for expanding their staff in a sign that confidence in Ballarat’s economy is strong.

“We currently have 95 staff, and the two floors we have taken give us room to expand to 130 at this point,” says the company’s Narelle Kaufmann.

“The building gives us a great street frontage and presence in Ballarat.”

Luke Jennings, director of Project Now building design, says the project drew on some notable buildings in Ballarat, including their own offices in the Trembath building in Mair Street.

Detail: Project Now director Luke Jennings on the balcony of 909 Sturt Street. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Detail: Project Now director Luke Jennings on the balcony of 909 Sturt Street. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

“We also looked at the Mining Exchange in Lydiard Street, as well as other terrace buildings along Sturt,” he says.

“Making a building like this work comes down to the refined details.”

Paul McCuskey says MacNeil Group will be looking for similar development opportunities in the future.

“Ballarat’s growing strongly; it’s got good population growth. It’s a great place to invest. I thinks it’s almost going to be a second gold rush. People are coming to Ballarat,” he says.