The iconic 1970s Roundhouse building in Newcastle’s civic precinct has been added to the State Heritage Register.

The building opened in 1977 as the City Administration Centre and is now a five-star hotel, the Crystalbrook Kingsley. Photo: Hunter Photo Bank

Now home to Newcastle’s first five-star hotel, Crystalbrook Kinglsey, the well-known landmark was formally the City Administration Centre.

Heritage NSW’s Executive Director, Sam Kidman, said the building opened in 1977 and represented an important regional NSW expression of the 20th Century international Modernism style of Brutalist design.

Brutalism is also characterised by innovative construction methods and ingenious design techniques.

The building was nominated for state heritage listing by architect legend, Brian Suters, who was part of the original local architectural design team of Wilson & Suters.

Suters helped shape the building, collaborating with renowned Australian architectural practice Romberg and Boyd.

Suters was named a Freeman of the City by the City of Newcastle on March 24 to recognise his contribution to Newcastle’s built form.

Heritage Council of NSW Chair, Frank Howarth, said it was great to see the brutalist design of the building preserved.

“I am impressed at how the original construction and design has been conserved and celebrated,” Howarth said.

“The adapted building fits in with all its state heritage neighbours in this wonderful civic precinct.

“The renovation of the former City Administration Centre into the Crystalbrook Kingsley hotel has revealed a highly successful adaptation of a historically important building.”

The Crystalbrook Collection purchased and renovated the landmark building and officially opened its doors on June 15, 2021.

Crystalbrook Collection stated that the Crystalbrook Kingsley aimed to celebrate the city’s past and future.

“One of the group’s commitments to the hotel development was celebrating what the building was and what it is to become,” Crystalbrook Kingsley’s General Manager, Carl Taranto, said.

“The colour and materials of the additions are recessive in their nature, accentuating, celebrating and not competing with the concrete masonry for which the Roundhouse is known.”

The State Heritage Register will protect the building, ensuring the conservation of the heritage character and now holds an integral place in the state’s collective identity.

Another local example of brutalist design can be seen at the Newcastle City Police Station, designed by government architect J.W. (Ian) Thomson and constructed between 1975 to 1982.

The station and its brutalist frontage are set for a $6.5 million facelift, announced by Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, in October 2021.

The upgrade will see a new façade, improved office space and a proposal to relocate the building entrance from Church Street to Watt Street— construction is estimated for completion in 2023.

Hayley McMahon

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