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Adelaide City Walks - Building Lobbies

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published May 28th 2012
Adelaide City Walks - Building Lobbies

Former Savings Bank of South Australia exterior
Former Savings Bank of South Australia exterior



If you're in the CBD with a few minutes to spare, you can make some surprising discoveries only a short distance from Rundle Mall.

Buried behind the facades of some older buildings around the city you can find some glimpses of grandeur from days gone by. While many building have had their interiors gutted and remodelled to maximise available floor space, a few remain to give a tantalising peek into the past.

Waymouth St
Start with a stroll down Waymouth St from King William, past the award winning Advertiser Building with its soaring full height atrium and its roof garden for smokers.

Advertiser Building rooftop garden
Advertiser Building rooftop garden


If you are on the northern side of the road you will have a good view of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance building, actually known as Woodard House. For some reason it always reminds me of the Crimson Permanent Assurance building, which uproots and sails away to attack The Very Big Corporation of America's skyscraper in a Monty Python sketch.

Woodard House
Woodard House


Coincidentally the CPS Credit Union building opposite was the stage for a different conflict in 1994, when the then National Crime Authority offices on the 12th floor were bombed causing the death of one man and serious injuries to another. No one has yet been convicted for that offence.

Richly decorated lobby
Richly decorated lobby


Heritage listed Woodard House was designed by prolific SA architect F Kenneth Milne and built in 1928. It was originally planned to be eight stories high, but due to the Depression only four were built, with a fifth added later. Upon entering the unassuming exterior, you are confronted with an elegant and richly styled lobby.

Woodard building lobby
Woodard building lobby


Currie St
Pass through Topham Mall (if you can pass up on a sushi, or a quick toasted sandwich) onto Currie Street. Walk past the huge MTAA Super building with its agoraphobia inducing atrium and take a quick peek in at number 95's less glamorous but nonetheless marbled interior.

Lobby 95 Currie St
Lobby 95 Currie St


Further down at 101 Currie St the Schiavello lobby has an almost art deco feel to it, although clearly updated with contemporary lighting.
Lobby of 101 Currie St
Lobby of 101 Currie St


Hidden just around the corner on Gilles Arcade is the oldest purpose-built theatre in mainland Australia, the historic Old Queen's theatre built in 1840. Presumably it's not named after its more flamboyant theatre goers.

Old Queen's theatre
Old Queen's theatre


If we detour briefly across the road and down Rosina St, you will find a car park backed by what appears to be a flecked brick wall. Closer examination shows that each of the specks is actually a model car - very fitting for the location.

Rosina St car park
Rosina St car park


Return back up Currie St towards King William St to Elders at number 27 where if you are quick, you can take a short glance at the austere marbled foyer before the dragon at the Security desk demands to know your business.

The Elders building foyer
The Elders building foyer


Our final stop on Currie St is the old State Bank (now Westpac) building, originally the headquarters of the Savings Bank of South Australia. The gargantuan pillared frontage was perhaps designed to scare away those with lesser fortunes.

Westpac Entrance
Westpac Entrance


Now inside is a truly grand lobby, if lacking in the ornamentation of some others we have seen.

Westpac Lobby
Westpac Lobby


King William St
Turning left onto King William St brings you to perhaps one of the most beautiful and ornate lobbies, that in Edmund Wright House at number 59.

Edmund Wright House exterior
Edmund Wright House exterior


Edmund Wright House lobby
Edmund Wright House lobby


Edmund Wright was the architect responsible for the design of many significant buildings in Adelaide, including the Synagogue off Rundle Street East and the GPO.

Heading back west across Currie St we find the old Bank of Adelaide (since amalgamated with the ANZ) at 89 King William St. It is built in the Federation Free Style and has a delightful period entrance lobby.

Old Bank of Adelaide
Old Bank of Adelaide


Last to see is no 97, once the Savings Bank of South Australia but now BankSA. It has an imposing frontage opening into an impressive cavernous banking chamber.

Former Savings Bank of South Australia exterior
Former Savings Bank of South Australia exterior


I wonder how many children played hide and seek around the enormous pillars in days gone by.

Former Savings Bank of South Australia interior
Former Savings Bank of South Australia interior


There is also a very solid and reassuring looking Safe Deposit area for those wealthy enough to need it.

Safe Deposit area
Safe Deposit area


Grenfell St
The final brief leg of our journey today is to number 20, The Grenfell with its marble panelled entrance.
The Grenfell lobby
The Grenfell lobby


Immediately next door is the Trustee Building built in 1923 which has a lobby with modest but pleasant decor.

Trustee Building lift area
Trustee Building lift area


Trustee Building stairs
Trustee Building stairs


While our tour has discovered some attractive and ornate legacies of Adelaide's past, it is not an exhaustive list of lobbies - just a few I found during lunchtimes on rainy days.

If you find others that you like, let us know in the comments.
You may find this website of heritage listings useful in locating other possibilities, although not all places covered in this article are heritage buildings.
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Why? Hidden Adelaide secrets need to be seen
When: Adelaide CBD
Cost: Free
Your Comment
55 Currie Street (The MTAA Super Building) is my favourite Currie Street lobby! :) My dad has worked there since I was little, and I've always loved it. Although I remember the fountain seeming a lot larger when I was 7.
by Natasha Stewart (score: 4|10037) 1973 days ago
I love that you see beyond the obvious and appear to have an appreciation of fine things around us... it's one of the beautiful, free and literally awe inspiring things you can do in any city around the world - hello! admire the astounding old buildings, for their beauty, resonance and history. My favourites in Adelaide would have to be the PO building o nthe cnr of King William and Franklin. Also, the building that now houses 'Saldechin'. I think it was previously an old site for Bank of New South Wales or Westpac? Lovely, High Tea or Supper and the most amazing olde worlde surrounds. The waiters used to be in black and white too. Haven't been for a couple of years now. You've inspired me to return for tea at Saldechin and to really check out your suggestions. I don't know, but for modern: the new Westpac tower has the most amazing architecture housed within and the MOST fabulous views around Adelaide. Friend works there and you feel quite giddy when you look down from it. Just amazing. Other great views used to be the old Hotel Adelaide in Nth Adelaide. Forget what it is now, but used to be a cocktail lounge on the 7th fl with wonderful views back, across Adelaide CBD. Sydney has the Queen Victoria Building and Melbourne - Flinders St station; it's iconic and was the first steam rail station in Australia. Magic!.
by curiouser&curiouser (score: 2|525) 1854 days ago
Love your work Dave. Seems you and your viewers are keen on Heritage Protection/ Conservation. Joining the National Trust SA will help them and their volunteers in their conservation and advocacy work with OUR built and natural environment protection. This government and Chairman RAU are currently planning to "water down" the Heritage Protection laws in favour of developers with new planning legislation now in Parliament.
Go to the National Trust SA website and sign the petition on the Heritage Watch page.
To make sure important and notable buildings and places in your area are properly protected, check with your Council that they are at least on your LOCAL HERITAGE LIST before it's too late and developers demolish.
How many times have we seen this happen because they weren't on a Heritage List and had no protection. This government wants development at all costs - be vigilant!!!
by theo (score: 1|10) 290 days ago
You're a veritable encyclopedia! I've always liked going into the Bank SA building whenever possible and imagining a) I'm in an Ocean's 11 style caper or b) I'm wealthy enough to need a safety deposit box. I'm probably not going to earn enough from Weekendnotes to need one, sadly!
by Kathleen (score: 2|578) 1972 days ago
I should have included a pic of it too as it is rather special, but was really focusing on older building at the time.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|10412) 1972 days ago
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