BEST VIEWED LARGER
Formerly the Maritime Services Building, the Art Deco gem now houses the Museum of Contemporary Art or the MCA
This monumental ‘H’ plan Art Deco office building was designed to complement the functionalist appearance of Circular Quay Railway Station, which itself was the subject of considerable public controversy during the 1930s.
The concrete encased steel framed building, which is relatively narrow in cross section, later required additional area on the George Street frontage to create sufficient gallery floor space. The exterior brick walls are faced with Maroubra yellowrock sandstone and detailed with polished Rob Roy granite.
The foyer is clad with polished Wombeyan marble and edged with green marble quarried near Mudgee in New South Wales. Internally, the mezzanine balcony is decorated with a wave design balustrade in aluminium. Windows are bronze framed and, on the whole, materials have been carefully specified to suit the harbourside location.
Much of the building’s decoration is contained in bas-relief panels on the central tower and over entrances, similar to the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Commencement of construction was interrupted by World War Two; by the time the building was completed, fashion had changed, and it was considered an Art Deco dinosaur