1.Plan for Extra Permitting Hoops
Not surprisingly, construction in a landmark-status property takes permitting process to an entirely new level. Before the usual council review and approval of construction plans, the project must already have sign-off from the appropriate landmark authority. For example, in Darling Harbour, the home market of Sydney, the Commision on Sydney Landmarks must do a comprehensive review of drawings to make sure they meet its qualifications, rules and regulations, landmark status since the project will have to receive approval from those two separate authorities. Because of this extra approval step and level of complexity in the review process, clients need to plan extra time in the planning stages of their project, which potentially impacts the overall construction project timeline.
2. Anticipate Impact on Non-Landmark Elements
Often, the work we do in a landmark building does not directly involve its protected features. For instance, if we’re completing a tenant interior build-out in a property where only the façade or lobby is protected, the impact on construction work can be minimal. Still, the general contractor needs to know and be mindful of the landmark construction criteria at all times, because there are often requirements for areas adjacent to or abutting protected elements. This is the case with the Westfield Mall at Pitt Street, where there was a requirement to match the new store’s flooring elevations to the original landmark conditions, and also tie into the existing storefront glazing system.
Another example is a renovation project, Sydney completed involving the lobby restrooms at Sydney’s historic Hotel. The restrooms themselves did not fall under the building’s landmark designation, but every new finish we installed – from lighting, door frames and hardware to flooring and wall finishes – still had to meet specific design and decor criteria in order to preserve the overall look of the hotel’s landmark-protected lobby. As we’re planning and budgeting a construction project in this scenario, we constantly have the landmark criteria in front of us so we can reference materials specifications as well as relevant construction requirements.
3. Workmanship is Key
Construction in landmark properties gets even more complex when our work involves original and unique features directly protected by the building’s landmark status. In these cases, it is imperative for owners and landlords to partner with a general contractor that has an extensive network of proven specialty subcontractors, since the project will likely call for restoration-caliber construction work. A great example of this is a retail space darling harbour refurbished at Sydney famed Palmer House. This retail construction project involved meticulously restoring a revolving door and its very elaborate, ornate outer brass security gate, as well as recreating detailed plasterwork within the store itself. Here requirements is to be incredibly careful in the subcontractor selection, tapping only the most trusted skilled craftsmen from our national database.
We know of projects that entail repairing the structural integrity of a landmark-protected stone or marble building façade. There’s no way to reproduce the look of 60- or 80-year-old stonework, so it is up to the general contractor to enlist expert tradesmen who can take those pieces off, refinish them and reinstall them. Not only does the general contractor need to know who to call for this specialized work, but the GC also must have the ability to handle the extra level of complexity and oversight that managing this type of repair work entails. Likewise, owners and landlords should be prepared that meticulous restorations under a landmark designation will almost always involve extra time and cost, impacting the project’s overall construction budget and schedule.
Just as each landmark-status building is unique, so too is every construction job in this one-of-a-kind properties. But with the right construction partner who is experienced in navigating the special considerations and challenges that go along with landmark requirements and criteria, there’s no reason these construction projects can’t go just as smoothly as any other.
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Bachelor of Civil Engineer & Master of Engineering Science (Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology)
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