Completed in 1967, six years before Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, Australia Square was the first truly modern skyscraper on the continent and, arguably, the world’s tallest lightweight concrete building. The 50-story cylindrical tower once stood alone as the focal point of a full city-block development in Central Sydney and with a popular plaza that made the complex the first successful large-scale commercial project in Australia. Vienna-born emigré architect Harry Seidler (1923–2006) brought his Harvard GSD and Black Mountain College training and experience in the offices of Marcel Breuer and Oscar Niemeyer to his adoptive Australia where he became the country’s leading postwar modernist from 1948 on. Australia Square also began Seidler’s creative collaboration with Italian structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, with whom he worked on a number of large projects.
Vladimir Belogolovsky, author of Harry Seidler: Life Work (Rizzoli, 2014) and curator of Harry Seidler: Painting Toward Architecture will discuss Australia Square’s design and construction principles and inherent circular geometry, placing Seidler’s first iconic tower in the context of four other key projects with similar concrete technology and geometric principles: the Trade Group Offices in Canberra (1974), MLC Centre in Sydney (1975), the Australian Embassy in Paris (1977), and the Hong Kong Club (1984). After his talk, Belogolovsky will be joined in dialogue with Tom Leslie, author of Beauty’s Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi(2017).