As the Newcastle Council City Administration Centre enters its new life as a five-star luxury hotel, let’s take a quick look back at its development. Opened in 1977, the ’roundhouse’ was designed by Australian architects Romberg and Boyd in association with Wilson and Suters. Swiss-trained architect Frederick Romberg was also the foundation Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle.
Once home only to a row of tin sheds housing a sheet metal business, the site was earmarked as early as 1950 for development to ease the growing issue of overcrowding at City Hall.
As always, some people were excited by the bold new round design, others not so much.
Newcastle Sun – 20 May 1969
Newcastle Sun 13 January 1971
Newcastle City Council purchased the Frederic Ask Ltd property in 1969 with part of the land to be used for the new administration centre with the aim of relieving cramped conditions for staff working in Newcastle City Hall.
“The City Hall was built in 1929 to house a council that served an area of four square miles and parts of two shires were included and the same building serves. It is a credit to the staff that it has worked efficiently in these conditions. It is time both the public and council employees were given good conditions.”William Burges – Town Clerk 1969
Site excavation, which included digging several storeys down to create a basement car park, was complicated by the unusually high water table. It required construction of what amounted to an underground dam around its perimeter.
Having been known by many names including the ‘wedding cake, in 2021, Newcastle’s City Administration Centre becomes the Crystalbrook Kingsley hotel.