Adelaide City Walks - Building Lobbies

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Posted 2012-05-28 by Dave Walshfollow

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

[SECTION]King William St[/SECTION]
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 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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

126195 - 2023-06-13 03:05:55


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