The Capita Centre (now known as 9 Castlereagh Street) is one of Harry Seidler's most innovative designs.
Seidler was initially reluctant to accept the commission for this project, deterred by a tight site with existing buildings on three sides. Seidler's previous designs for tall office towers had generally added street-level pedestrian space to the public domain, apparently impossible in this case. As well as restricting public access, the Castlereagh Street site restricted potential aspect to light and views.
Seidler's design response was to create a 'hollowed out' tower with an external structure and building core, permitting a tall atrium running the height of the building and introducing light to its thirty four levels. This concept also permits an open plaza space within the tower's footprint. The accessbility of the plaza/open foyer is heightened by its garden character, while elevated gardens are located at levels twelves and sixteen of the atrium.
The Capita's Centre's external framework and towering atrium are a dazzling demonstration of Seidler's gift for visual marriage of structure, function and form. It also demonstrated that towers could be accommodated to city street life even when surrounding open space was stymied by regulation or situation.
In 2011/2012 Stockland, new owners of the building, retained Harry Seidler & Associates to refurbish the ground floor space. This work involved the removal of the foyer fig trees; only a comparitively small grove of ash trees remian. However the tiled mural designed by Lin Utzon is more prominent and the space is generally more visually accessible to Castlereagh Street.
Charles Pickett. Curator, Design and built environment.