In the lead up to the launch of The Fullerton Hotel Sydney in the former Sydney General Post Office (GPO) — the vision for which is to become the city’s luxury heritage hotel in the heart of the CBD — remediation and maintenance work on the façade of the historic landmark has commenced.
Built on a grand scale and at huge expense, Australia’s first GPO building dominated the Sydney streetscape and skyline for decades. Constructed in two stages, beginning in 1866 and designed under the guidance of colonial architect James Barnet, the GPO was regarded as a building which would come to symbolise Sydney in the same way the Houses of Parliament in Westminster represent London and the Eiffel Tower, Paris. With its intricate stonework and carvings causing a public outcry when it was first launched, the GPO remained Sydney’s most well-known landmark since 1874 until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was erected in 1932.
With extensive experience preserving historic buildings in The Fullerton Heritage precinct in Singapore, the Hotel’s future operator The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts is committed to the conservation of the Sydney GPO building for future generations. Cleaning its iconic façade is the first step of a broader remediation programme.
Experienced local heritage structural engineers Shreeji Consultant is charged with overseeing the building’s preservation. Equipped with extensive conservation and remediation experience, the team has worked on several prestigious buildings. With a Masters in Heritage Engineering from Europe, lead project manager Sumeer Gohil has experience working with Sydney sandstone and has been involved in major local heritage projects including the Strand Arcade and the Queen Victoria Building.
The laborious chemical-free cleaning process, estimated to take more than 38,000 working hours, will be carried out by highly trained specialists who will use steam, water and scrubbing brushes to remove accumulated layers of dirt without altering the sandstone’s natural patina, preserving the building’s integrity and showcasing its beauty. The specialist team, led by Rick Timperi from Stonemason & Artist (SMA), has a combined total of 334 years of stonemasonry experience.
During the cleaning process, a secure water capture system will ensure that there is no contamination to the stormwater system and no disruption to the public walking below, while scaffolding will be erected around the building for access and safety.
In selecting experts to work on the project, The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts was careful to choose reputable and experienced professionals and artisans, such as curator and writer Dr Charles Pickett, Rick Timperi from Stonemason & Artist (SMA), and Sumeer Gohil of Shreeji Consultant, who respect the building’s heritage and historic significance.
The façade remediation process commences this month and the first stage of cleaning is expected to complete in time for the Hotel’s official opening in October 2019. After its rebranding, the Hotel will offer dedicated heritage tours to share the building’s fascinating history which spans from the hallowed hallways of the historic building to the ornamental carvings on the façade.