Architectural Art


Lands Department Bldg
The building's facade features 48 niches, 12 on each side, whose sculpted occupants include explorers and legislators who made a major contribution to the opening up and settlement of the nation. Although 48 men were nominated by architect James Barnet as being suitable subjects, most were rejected as being 'hunters or excursionists'. Only 23 statues were commissioned, the last of them being added in 1901 leaving 25 niches unfilled. Those who made it include Hume and Hovell; Sir Thomas Mitchell; Blue Mountains pioneers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth; George Bass; Matthew Flinders and Sir Joseph Banks. The niches on the Bridge Street frontage are all filled but 25 others were never filled. It is not known who if anyone at all was intended to fill these empty spaces, or whether Barnet left them empty on purpose so they could to be filled by future generations with statues of persons they deemed worthy of honouring.
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  • Chief Secretary's Building
    The building features nine life-size statues (six external and three internal) placed according to the administrative function of three parts of the building. The entrances on three streets are labelled in sandstone, directing visitors to the appropriate section. The prestigious 121 Macquarie Street entrance is labelled "Colonial Secretary". He occupied the North-East corner office on the First Floor (at the time the top floor, now called Level 3). has There are six exterior niches with statues in them by Giovanni Fontana, all are filled and all depict women. Those on the corner of Macquarie Street depict Wisdom, Justice and Mercy; those on the corner of Phillip Street depict Labour, Science and Art. In the foyer is a statue of The Maid of New South Wales. In the foyer is a statue of The Maid of New South Wales.
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    • University of Sydney
      Drawn on the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the creation of what is undoubtedly his finest workl Colonial Architect Edmund Blacket's sandstone masterpiece - The University of Sydney Main Quadrangle - was created in Tudor style with Gothic touches, consists of the Main Quadrangle, the Great Hall and St. Andrews College. All other buildings were added later. Great attention was paid to detail, with each building carefully decorated inside with carved cedar and outside with towers and spires decorated with crockets and gargoyles, and finely detailed hand carved embellishments including statuettes, finials and crests. The perfectly proportioned Great Hall, modelled on Westminster Abbey in London, features stained glass windows, a marble statue of the University's chief founder and benefactor, W.C. Wentworth, and a statue of the Angel of Knowledge on the top.

Mitchell Library Mosaic
The Mitchell Library Wing of the State Library of NSW is the first in a row of buildings which form the majestic streetscape of modern day Macquarie Street. An impressive sandstone structure, its striking Ionic columns support the huge vaulted ceiling of the vestibule and look down upon a giant mosaic replica of an old map documenting the voyage of Dutch seaman Abel Tasman in the 1640s which forms the vestibule floor.
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  • Customs House
    Customs House in Alfred Street stands on the site of the first jetty built by the pioneer colonists in 1788. The building, made of Pyrmont sandstone, is an enlarged and redesigned version of the original much smaller Customs House which features polished granite columns, a coat of arms and the face of Queen Victoria carved in the stone above the main entrance. An elaborate clock face was placed when the side wings were added in 1897. The top floor was added in 1900. The Royal Coat of Arms over the portico, carved by Robert Paton, is considered one of the finest stone carvings in Australia.
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    • Queen Victoria Building
      The Queen Victoria Building was designed by City Architect George McRae in 1898. This spacious and ornate building of Romanesque design was created as a produce market and functioned as such for two decades. After surviving numerous threats of demolition and various uses including that of the City Library, it was refurbished at a cost of $75 million and reopened in its present form in 1986. The building features two statue groups by sculptor William P. Macintosh, which were commissioned in 1897 during its construction. Located on the west facade of the building s central arches at the York Street frontage, one west features a male flanked by two draped females. Made from Sicilian marble, the statues stand approximately 4.5 m high. The east group features a lightly draped female figure flanked by two, semi-nude males. Made from Sicilian marble, the statues stand approximately 4.5 m high.
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      • Sydney Town Hall
        The most significant motif carved into the sandstone of the Town Hall is a simplified version of the Common Seal of the City as adopted by the first Council in 1842 (right). The work of a draughtsman in the City Surveyor's Department, M. de St Remy, it features a shield supported on one side by an Australian aborigine, and on the other by a British sailor. The shield featured a beehive, reflecting industry, and a sailing ship, recalling Sydney's connections to the sea. The City's motto "I take but I surrender" is incorporated into the design. Although de St Remy's original design was never formally endorsed, it formed the basis for subsequent developments and was used with slight variations throughout the 19th Century..

Art Gallery of NSW
When it was constructed, what is today the Art Gallery's main building in the Domain was known as The National Gallery. It was designed by Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, who was assigned the task by the Government instead of the preferred choice of the Trustees of the Art Gallery, private architect John Horbury Hunt, who has designed a temporary brick building erected in 1884. The decor of the building included the names of famous artists set high around its front and sides below the entablature. Forty-four names were intended. Thirty-two names are found on the existing elevations, lettered in bronze below the entablature. Seven intended names are known from architectural drawings, the other five intended names were is not known.
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  • AWA Building
    The company's head office head office, with its lattice steel broadcasting tower on top, reflected AWA's success and became a well known landmark in the city. Completed just before World War II and built to the 46 metres height limit of the day, it is a brick-faced building with projecting vertical ribs and parapet decoration in the form of a Pegasus in bass relief, the Pegasus being the company's logo. It features a marble clad lift foyer and stairs, timber panelled foyer with wall decorations in relief and a tiled mosaic of a Pegasus laid in the floor.
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    • General Post Office
      Sydneysiders today walk past the many intricate carvings on our precious old buildings without so much as giving them a second look. Such was not the case when these buildings were being erected. There was a great degree of civic pride shown by the residents towards the city that was being created around them and the inclusion of contemporary figures on the Pitt Street section of the General Post Office building invoked a similar community revolt as did the addition of the "Toaster" into the panorama of Circular Quay East in the 1990s. Government Architect James Barnet and Italian sculptor Signor Sani raised the ire of the populace by creating a series of sculptures above the Pitt Street archways of the GPO building which depicted contemporary people at work. These included a fishmonger, a sailor, a postman delivering a letter to a barmaid, a printer and an architect (who looked remarkably like Barnet himself!).
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      • BMA House

        An early Art Deco-style skyscraper, lavishly decorated with gothic and medieval motifs and the flamboyant incorporation of Australian iconography - including particularly the Koalas at the top of the front facade. The terracotta faience was manufactured locally by Wunderlich. The building won the RIBA Award for Street Architecture in 1935 and RIBA Bronze Medal. At 12 stories it was one of the tallest of the new skyscrapers in Sydney at the time, but what set it apart was the extraordinary decorations.
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