20 August 2021

Seven-storey office complex to rise on One City Hill

| Ian Bushnell
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One City Hill office development

An artist’s impression of the proposed One City Hill office development on Vernon Circle. Image: GMB Architects.

Morris Property Group has unveiled its revised development plans for One City Hill – a seven-storey office complex with ground floor retail and hospitality.

MPG had proposed a mixed-use residential project for the more than 10,000 square-metre site on Blocks 10 and 11, Section 100 in the city next to the law courts, but abandoned those plans because of the pandemic saying it eroded the demand for accommodation from international students.

It has now lodged a Works Application with the National Capital Authority, saying the new proposal will provide a highly flexible, sustainable and innovative workplace environment that will contribute positively to the urban life of Canberra City.

It comprises two distinct but connected buildings with a curved, 25 metre-high frontage to Vernon Circle, double-height colonnade and textured louvre screen which the planning document says will align with the adjacent court building and reinforce the civic nature of City Hill.

One City Hill Knowles Place entrance

The main building entry at Knowles Place. Image: GMB Architects.

Knowles Place will be extended through the site to Edinburgh Avenue and surrendered to the ACT Government as a public road upon completion.

The extension has been designed with a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly shared zone to slow traffic and encourage movement through the precinct, and will support 783 square metres of retail and food and beverage outlets

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It will have 121 metres of active frontage including shop fronts and entry lobbies that will wrap around the corner of Edinburgh Avenue.

A number of pedestrian laneways have also been included in the plans.

The complex will add more than 34,000 square metres of office space to the city, accommodating 2500 people and 3000 workspaces.

One City Hill colonnade

The double-height colonnade on Vernon Circle. Image: GMB Architects.

It has been designed to meet a high standard of sustainability and energy efficiency, targeting a 5 Star NABERS rating and a 5 Star Green Star rating.

MPG plans to install a significant public art piece at the main entrance to One City Hill on Knowles Place in consultation with the NCA.

Public art is expected to be a feature of future stages of the precinct.

The project’s approved basement car parking levels are nearing completion and expected to be open to the public later this year.

The three levels will hold 871 parking spaces for office workers, tenancies and the public. There will also be end-of-trip facilities for cyclists.

Most of the building services and the vehicle access have been located at the northern end of Knowles Place.

MPG believes the project will reinforce One City Hill as the commercial centre of Canberra.

One City Hill precinct map

The precinct masterplan with One City Hill outlined in red. Image: GMB Architects.

This development is part of a wider planned precinct that will include two landmark tower buildings to the London Circuit site corners on Blocks 8 and 9 and a low-rise central element fronting London Circuit.

Known as The Barracks, this second development will cover more than 11,000 square metres.

The original project began with construction of the Edinburgh Avenue extension on Block 7, which was completed in December 2020 and handed over to the Territory.

MPG acquired Section 100 from City West Property Holdings in 2018 for $85 million.

Consultation closes on 16 September. To learn more visit the NCA website.

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The new development is called The Barracks. That brought a smile to many of us who visited the Oxford Street precinct in Sydney in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Barracks was a famous gay men’s club on three floors, and the main attraction was the glass urinal behind the bar where you got a good view with your meal and drinks.

Unfortunately it looks like this version of The Barracks will have nothing in common with that earlier much missed institution.

While civic was the historical heart and CDB. I’d imagine that a newer more modern centre will emerge in years to come as this concrete slab fades into grey

Good stuff! Severely underutilised land until now.

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