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Former City Mutual Life Building
60-66 Hunter Street, Sydney
1934-36 Emil Sodersten
1989 Travis and Partners (conservation work)

One of the most impressive and innovative interwar Art Deco buildings in Australia, this was designed by Emil Sodersten (1901-61) after he had completed an important tour overseas. At thirty-three years of age, when CML was designed, Sodersten (like C Bruce Dellit one year his senior) was a young architect pioneering modern design in Sydney, with considerably more impact than his conservative and more established peers.

The V-shaped plan addresses Richard Johnson Square, on the corner of Bligh and Hunter Streets, with a strong chamfered entrance which rises the whole height of the building. Behind the entrance is a courtyard and full-height lightwell which provides good natural light to each floor. The serrated or zigzag’ window treatment to the street (also found on the Queensland Insurance Building in Pitt Street by Sodersten, 1940) allows much greater control of direct sunlight from one direction, while still allowing a view from the other. This was also the first private office building in Sydney to be fully air-conditioned. Fine interior features and finishes appear in seven types of stone with original fixtures. The polished stone entrance features bronze sculptures by Rayner Hoff who had just completed his tour-de-force at the Anzac War Memorial (427) in Hyde Park.

 

Taken from:Sydney architecture / Jahn, Graham. Published 1997.