Sydney Tower ( also known as the AMP Tower, AMP Centrepoint Tower, Centrepoint Tower ) is Sydney’s tallest free-standing structure, and the second tallest in Australia, with the Q1 building on the Gold Coast now being the tallest. (see the dedece Australian Skyscraper database here )
While AMP managed the Centrepoint shopping centre, the tower was officially referred to as “AMP Tower”. After Westfield Group took over ownership of Centrepoint in December 2001, the tower reverted to its original name of Sydney Tower.
The iconic Sydney Tower has been labelled with two Westfield signs measuring 20m long and six metres high. The giant logos were winched into place by two helicopters on Sunday the 26th June, 2011, during an orchestrated operation that was several months in planning.
Crone Architects conceived Sydney Tower in 1968.
The tower stands 309 m (1,014 ft) above the Sydney CBD. Prior to construction of the tower, the height limit in Sydney had been set at 279 m, to allow for safe overflights by flying boats, an aircraft type that had been obsolescent for almost two decades
Construction of Centrepoint’s shopping areas began in late 1970 with the first 52 stores opening in 1972.
The office component was completed in 1974.
Construction of the tower component began in 1975 and was completed in 1981.
The total cost of construction was A$ 36 million.
Public access to the tower, at the time the fourth tallest building in the world, began in September 1981.
However, building this tall tower was no small feat. Engineers had to overcome the potential problem of Sydney’s winds on the structure.
The tower was designed to withstand a “once-in a-thousand” year storm, bending in winds in excess of 162 mph, as well as an earthquake of a force never anticipated to occur in Australia.
56 cables stabilise the tower.
Alexander Wargon (1926 – 2010) practised as a civil engineer and joined Robert Chapman to form Wargon Chapman and Partners. ( now Hyder Consulting )
When the architect Donald Crone had the idea of a tower in the middle of Sydney, he employed Wargon as the person to design it. The two of them worked closely together with the owners of the site and Centrepoint tower remains a landmark above the city to this day.
Probably one of the best known of Wargon’s works, though, is the harbour tunnel. He was one of the instigators of the project and joined with Transfield and Kumagai Gumi to design it.
The turret was jacked up from the top of the 11-level base over the 2 years of 1977 and 1978, reaching its current position in 1979.
The spire above the turret was placed atop in 1980.
Besides hoisting the turret from the top of the office component to the top of the shaft, there were a few construction strikes around Sydney (and elsewhere around Australia) at the time including the Centrepoint site.
The shaft supporting the turret is made up of 46 barrel units, each weighing 27 tonnes. These were brought on to the site in seven pieces and welded together. Once the first three sections were in place, a gantry crane was erected to hoist the remaining 43 barrel units.
Each barrel unit was completed with lifts rails, stairwells and hydrolic risers before hoisting. The shaft contains two sets of fire stairs, fire, electrical and plumbing ducts in one half and the lift shafts in the remainder.
The tower itself weighs 2,239 tons.
One of the floors in the turret contains a 162,000 litre water tank which serves as a counterbalance to the wind gusts.
An 11-storey shopping and office complex is at the base and the golden turret consists of 9 levels.
5 of the turret’s floors are used for building operational needs.
4 of the turret’s levels are for public useage ( the top 2 levels used for the observation decks and just below them are 2 revolving restaurants; one restaurant revolves clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, but at exactly the same speed.)
There are three main sections of the tower open to public access.
One is the observation deck at 250 metres above ground level with a fully-enclosed viewing platform featuring 360 degree views of the city and surrounds. This floor also features a small gift shop, a readout displaying data on the conditions of the tower (wind speed, direction and sway amplitude).
The Sydney Tower Skywalk platform at 268 metres above ground level has an open-air viewing platform only accessible as part of planned and booked tours.
There are also revolving restaurants, one à la carte and one buffet. The buffet restaurant was recently (2006) renovated. It seats 220 people, and serves 185,000 customers annually, of which 50,000 are international visitors, mostly from Asia.
The tower is open to the public, and is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city, being visible from a number of vantage points throughout town and from adjoining suburbs.
To celebrate the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, AMP commissioned Sydney sculptor Dominique Sutton to design three figures representing the Olympic and Paralympic ideals.
The three figures depicting a gymnast, a Paralympic basketballer and a sprinter were airlifted and installed atop the AMP Tower in July 1998, becoming a focal point of celebrations in the lead up to and during the games.
The Sprinter weighs 3.5 tonnes and is an impressive 12 metre high three dimensional steel rendition of an elite athlete. Captured at the instant of maximum speed, it is an iconic image of movement.
The Sprinter, has been permanently relocated at Sydney Olympic Park (2002).
In its new location, viewers are offered a much closer vantage point than was possible when the sculpture was perched in its original site more than 300 metres above ground.
AMP donated the other two sculptures – a gymnast and a Paralympic basketballer – to the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (2002)
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (Support Structure Architects)
Winton Associates (Project Managers)