Restored to Its Former Glory
Australia, with its short past as a nation, has so few buildings that can truly be called ‘historic’. While many of the structures erected by the earliest white settlers have decayed beyond repair or been destroyed to make way for modern developments, some have been given the chance to shine. One such example is the State Buildings in Perth, Western Australia, where I had the pleasure of dining at Post earlier this year. While the dining experience at Post was world class, it was the building itself that really captured my attention.
Showcasing the austere British building sensibilities of our forebears, the architect-designed State Buildings were constructed in Perth’s central business district in 1874. Comprising of three interconnected buildings, the space was used as public offices, a police court and also as the home of Perth’s main post office. The State Government operated from this location for many years and it also served as an immigration office and treasury. Despite the grandeur of these premises, with their impressive marble banisters and Victorian features, the State Buildings were left to stand empty when the government relocated their headquarters in the mid 90s.
As the cobwebs invaded the once busy halls, the empty structure managed to escape demolition due to its heritage status and prominent position on Perth’s historic St George’s Terrace. In 2007, the lease on the building was passed from the government to developers who had the noble goal of realising its true potential.
A $110 million dollar renovation project began under architect Kerry Hill. It was to take eight years, starting with essential repairs and then bringing original features such as intricate copper trimmings,grand staircases and decorative archways back to life. Few expenses were spared and the project team paid immense attention to detail, even importing 60,000 pieces of Welsh slate to restore the roof of the old Postal Hall to its former glory.
The State Buildings have been reincarnated as Como The Treasury; Perth’s first six star hotel. This 48-room boutique accommodation includes a downstairs pavilion that is open to the public and houses several handpicked retail outlets including a florist, a chocolatier and a yoga studio.
Upstairs, former government offices are now glamorous, luxuriously fitted and of course, serviced by butlers. The crowning feature of this fine new establishment is the rooftop Wildflower restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner against a “backdrop of sweeping Swan River views”.
Visitors sing the praises of Perth’s newest place to be, raving about its food and service while describing the decor as being “to the highest taste possible”. The team behind this extensive and highly detailed restoration project’s hard work has been well rewarded - Como The Treasury was named Hotel of the Year and New Hotel of the Year by Gourmet Traveller only a few months after opening its doors in 2015. In July 2016 Kerry Hill Architects were awarded an Australian Institute of Architects Commercial Architecture Award for the project as well as awards in the Interior, Sustainable, Lighting and Steel categories.
If you’re in Perth at any stage, make sure you include the beautifully restored State Buildings as part of your itinerary. Give yourself ample time to truly take in the achievements of the team behind this wonderful success story.
*Images courtesy of Built, with thanks.