Architectural model, Gloucester Street Offices, Sydney, Philip Cox / Cox Architects, New South Wales, Australia, 
The model is significant as an example of a large city development designed to be sympathetic to its heritage surroundings.
It is arguable that a building containing 40,000 square metres of office space will inevitably have an overwhelming impact, both aesthetically and functionally, on a precinct comprised primarily of low-rise 1920s commercial buildings such as that between the southern end of Gloucester and Cumberland Streets, The Rocks.
However the Rocks redevelopment progress saw the construction of several large new structures, primarily on the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge and its approaches. Perhaps the most striking of these is Syrius Tower, further north on Cumberland Street, a public housing apartment block completed in 1979 and designed in consultation with the Rock residents who became its first tenants.
The design of Syrius responds to its setting in several ways, although its Brutalist finish and massing does not. A decade later the incorporation of heritage-inspired elements was commonplace, and the finishes and detailing of the Gloucester Street model are typical of PostModernism's brief moment. Hence the masonry finishes were to closely match those of Science House which was to be incorporated into the development while, according to the architects: 'The formal details...such as entablatures and column capitals were developed as exaggerated contemporary elements, thereby avoiding historic replication while, from a distance, appearing consistent with surrounding buildings'. [Cox Architects: Selected and current works, Images Publishing, 1997, p.40]. The overall massing of the proposed building is stepped down towards the south to reduce overshadowing of Lang Park.
Charles Pickett, curator Design and built environment
Philip Cox (b.1939) is one of Australia's most prolific and influential architects. Shortly after graduating from the University of Sydney in 1962 Cox went into partnership with established architect Ian McKay. This alliance facilitated work on two large projects early in Cox's career. The first was a boys's home for the Presbyterian Church at Emerald Hill, Leppington, the second the Alexander Agricultural College at Tocal, near Paterson in the NSW Hunter Valley. These projects were awarded the Sulman Prize in 1963 and 1965 respectively.
Cox formed his own practice in 1972. The National Athletics Stadium and adjacent AIS Sports and Training Centre were its first major projects. They were doubly significant is establishing the steel structuralist design vocabulary associated with Cox from this time and used in numerous high-profile projects including the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Uluru Tourist Resort.
The Canberra venues also laid the foundations for Cox's eminence in the new (in Australia) field of stadium architecture. In this field Cox's work includes the Sydney Football Stadium, the National Tennis Centre, Melbourne, the Sydney Showground Arena, AAMI Park, Melbourne and the Khalifa Stadium, Doha.
Cox and his practice have been influential in several building genres. During the 1980s Cox Architects designed some significant low-rise public housing apartment complexes in Wolloomooloo and other Sydney locations. These projects created new neighbourhoods carefully integrated with established but socially and architecturally challenged areas. The urban renewal theme is also evident in Cox's design for the Haymarket campus and library for the University of Technology, Sydney.
Other Cox buildings sited close the Powerhouse Museum are the UTS Design, Architecture and Building Faculty on Harris Street and the neighbouring second (TV studio) stage of the ABC complex.
Gloucester Street Offices was designed by Cox Architects in association with Hassell Architects during 1989 for a limited architectural competition held by the Sydney Cove Authority (SCA). The site, owned by SCA, was a narrow block between Gloucester Street and Cumberland Street, The Rocks, and the intersection of the Bradfield Highway and Grosvenor Street.
The Cox/Hassell design in association with White Industries Limited as site developer was declared the winner of 15 entries by architect/developer consortia.
The Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority, a NSW Statutory Authority, was established in 1970 to redevelop the Rocks district in Sydney with new offices, hotels and housing. The ratiionale for this strategy was partly that rent-producing high-rise structures would be able to finance the conservation and reuse of the numerous historic low-rise structures of the Rocks precinct. SCRA's plans and resulting demolitions and eviction of public housing tenants became a focus of community opposition leading to Green Bans supported by the Builder Labourers Federation, local residents and others. In 1988 SCRA was renamed the Sydney Cove Authority and refocused its strategy towards recycling and conservation of existing buildings and heritage-sensitive redevelopments. The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority took over this role in 1998.
The brief for the competition specified a design sensitive to its heritage surroundings, including Science House, St Patrick's Church and Lang Park. However the development would have required the demolition of the Lawsons auction house and other structures.
The development did not proceed, attracting opposition on heritage grounds while the recession of the early 1990s undermined its economic viability. Some years later Lawson House was added to the State Heritage Register.