Whizzing through architectural history in a capsule
May 19, 2015

Financial services provider MBL from Sydney was looking for a new location and in 2014 the bank moved into the rooms of an historical building on Martin Place, just down the road from Darling Harbour. Built in 1928 in the Neo-Classicist style, the complex is today protected as cultural heritage. Notwithstanding this, the plan was to create modern workstations for the roughly 2,000 staff at MBL, which challenged the architects at Sydney-based Johnson Pilton Walker into striking a balance between modernization and rigid restrictions as a result of the preservation order. Ultimately, the architects added two floors to the building which now accommodate the executive board’s offices and meeting rooms. A glass dome serves as the roof, flooding the new management premises on the 10th and 11th floors with daylight and adding a shine to the bright, smooth marble and glass surfaces.

Two new express elevators have been fitted to take the bank’s management from the ground floor right up to the top. Here, the architects opted for transparent elevators by Schindler from the “Schindler 7000” line, which they inserted into already existing shaft pits in the center of the ground floor. Opting for vitreous cabins and shafts, Johnson Pilton Walker continued the theme of transparency, reflection and light on the upper floors. Plenty of daylight pours into the cylindrical elevator capsule to offer a fantastic panoramic view of all floors during the swift ride. The cabins have an almost weightless appearance – the transparency of the ceilings, walls and floors succeeds in breaking up the confined space on the inside and may help disperse feelings of anxiety experienced by the one or other staff member. The approach called for highly sophisticated technology to ensure that visible mechanical components did not take away from the transparency of the vitreous ensemble.

In developing the elevators, Schindler liaised closely with the client – the result being custom-made designs from the firm’s own “Research and Development Centre” in Switzerland. Traveling at up to ten meters per second, the “Schindler 7000” is not only extremely fast, but is able to carry the tremendous weight of up to 4,000 kilograms. In addition, several outdated elevators in the southern and northern sections of the building were replaced by new models from the “Schindler 5500” product line. The design of the elevators exudes modest elegance – all decorative elements were kept to a minimum to accentuate the historical bronze, marble and copper reliefs in the elevator lobby. Now MBL staff can change floors at a speed of up to three meters per second. Finally, the “Schindler PORT” traffic management system ensures smart call destination management and provides security, as access is controlled via touchscreen and staff ID card.

Glass lifts for the Macquarie Bank Limited: The „Schindler 7000“ were installed in two old cut outs in the ground floor. Photo © Schindler

Expressway through the building: The round panorama cabins take you to the executive suites on the 10th and 11th floor. Photo © Schindler

View at the sky: The brave ride summits in the glass dome und offers a fantastic view. Photo © Schindler

Besides all transparency – all mechanical elements had to be hidden. Photo © Schindler

Offices flooded with light for the executive: the two new floors with glass dome. Photo © Schindler

New technology, old decor: The marble cladding of the historical walls should not be damaged during the installation of „Schindler 5500“. Photo © Schindler

The transparent lifts fit well with the historical interior. Photo © Schindler

Excursion to the roof: Here, the incoming daylight shines on the transparent elevator car. Photo © Schindler