Sydney NSW 2000 – 66 Hunter Street

October 20, 2012

Last 60min sketch of yesterday’s city outing was 66 Hunter Street, one of many impressive Art Deco buildings around Sydney. I’d spotted a potential location diagonally opposite – a quiet, sunny terrace, empty on weekends – but a tree was in the way. However the roofline of buildings above the tree was interesting (better if I’d used brown toned paper). I’ve identified the buildings from left to right as Asagao Aurora (Renzo Piano, on Macquarie Street); 4-6 Bligh Street (“Bligh House”), 2 Chifley Square (“Chifley Tower”), 66 Hunter Street in sandstone and 1 Chifley Square (the former QANTAS building, famous among architects for being the city’s first with curtain wall glazing).

Graphite pencil 4B and Prismacolor coloured pencils; 5×8″ Daler-Rowney 150gm sketchbook.

66 Hunter Street is known as the site of famous Rockpool Bar & Grill which exploits the high-ceilinged foyer. The advertising agency where my father used to work for was on the upper floors; I remember this building when I visited my father at his office when still a young child and I vividly recall the fuss in 1963 when the Tom Bass P&O wall fountain sculpture across the road was first installed. Sydneysiders like to get riled up about new public sculpture or buildings; inventing disparaging monikers for works of public art is a sport here.

The sandstone building has unusual zigzag windows, very similar to the building opposite Angel House 123 Pitt Street which I think features in the current ad on tv for an Australian airline. The windows alone are worth coming back to sketch; the building reminds me of “Gotham City”, the giant Art Deco apartment block in Elizabeth Bay (though that one is entirely in grey concrete). Many modern buildings in Sydney these days adopt architectural detail either from the Art Deco heritage or the curves of the Sydney Opera House, so it can often feel like sketching variations on a theme.

The foyers of two Art Deco masterpieces – 44 Martin Place and the BMA Building in Macquarie Street – feature in the upcoming architectural event, Sydney Open 2012.

Veronica Lawlor, an American urban sketcher, is big on the sounds of the city while sketching. Today there were roadworkers nearby with some sort of machine (I never got to identify what it was) which kept up this refrain of mechanical sighing – a whistley, steam-driven sound; it was like a musical accompaniment to the sketching. 

For a photo of my skyline (and a history of 66 Hunter Street), see


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