Gaining Height in the CBD

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-By Jen Hamilton

The eastern edge of the Brisbane central business district is frequently photographed, not only for its visual appeal, but for its representation of the economic growth of the booming city. Why? Because the skyline is comprised of a large cluster of modern high-rises and goliath skyscrapers, set along the shores of the Brisbane River. Many of these buildings are notable for a number of qualities, but this issue’s article will take a look at those that stand tallest.

Waterfront Place

Although this 162 metre office building is not the tallest of the Brisbane skyscrapers, it does anything but blend in with the city backdrop. With smooth, curved edges leading into triangular outcrops, it has a unique shape that makes it stand out amongst the glass boxes that pepper so many cityscapes. With its distinctive geometry and its blue-tinted, glass panel façade, Waterfront Place adds a point of interest to Brisbane’s CBD.

These glass panels, however, may not have turned out to be all the building owner was hoping for. In fact, throughout the mid-90s more than 140 panes of glass spontaneously shattered at Waterfront Place, some of which fell to the street below. These glass failures were the result of nickel sulphide inclusions within the many panels. As a result, upgrades and precautions have been undertaken to ensure the public is safe from the possibility of falling glass.

Additional, internal upgrades have also been carried out since the building was opened in 1990. These include waste, water, and energy efficiency improvements to increase the Waterfront Place NABERS rating from 2 to 4 stars, revitalisation of the grand foyer into a modern meeting place, and refurbishments of office spaces. Consequently, Waterfront Place continues to be a premium office building and a CBD highlight.

Central Plaza One

Construction of this office building was completed back in 1988, and at 174 metres in height it was the tallest tower in Brisbane at the time. Built as part of a commercial complex, it is complemented by its shorter counterparts, Central Plaza Two and Central Plaza Three.

Like Waterfront Place, Central Plaza One has a unique shape. Inspired by the prismatic geometry of a crystal, the slender tower’s corners are cut away at varying heights and replaced by reflective glass curtain walls. This results in clean, sharp edges and a changing internal floor plan as the shape of the entire building changes from bottom, to middle, to top. On the “uncut” edges of the exterior, white aluminium bands alternate with the reflective glass window panes.

Once a record-breaking number one, Central Plaza One is now the fifth tallest building in Brisbane. Not to worry though; this is not the only record the tower has ever broken. According to The Australian, the sale of the Central Plaza Complex in 2007, for $839 million, was the biggest single-asset property deal in Australia.

One One One Eagle Street

It has been said that design inspiration for One One One Eagle Street comes from the way in which plants grow toward light. As such, the columns were placed in a pattern resembling that of the branches of a fig tree, and are visible through the fully glazed glass façade.

Fittingly, the nature theme carried through to the sustainability standards of the overall design. The building was given a 6 Star Green Star Design Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia and developer GPT Group continues to work toward the 6 Star Green Star As-Built Rating.

This will be accomplished through the use of onsite tri-generation, CO2 monitoring systems for indoor air quality, water recycling systems, the use of sustainable, low emission, and recycled materials where possible, and a high efficiency lighting system. The goal is to achieve these sustainability ratings without compromising the comfort or functionality of the office spaces.

Riparian Plaza

This mixed use building was designed by world renowned architect Harry Seidler. The design maximises views of Brisbane River by situating the building at a 45 degree angle to the shoreline and placing residential apartments in the uppermost levels, each with large projecting terraces and floor to ceiling glass doors. Riparian Plaza was also, for a short time, the tallest building in Brisbane until it was overtaken by the Aurora Tower in 2006.

Below the residential levels there is a recreation level and a 25 metre pool for residents, and below this there are 25 levels of first-class commercial space. Offices are column-free, with plenty of natural lighting. The ground-floor lobby opens onto a retail plaza and outdoor shoreline promenade. This design earned the 2007 RAIA National Architecture Award for Commercial Architecture.

Aurora Tower

At a soaring 207 metres tall, the residential-only Aurora Tower enjoyed the title of tallest building in Brisbane from 2006-2011. Building such a tall, slender structure required some unique design considerations and careful collaboration between engineers, design teams, and construction crews.

Wind induced tower sway was reduced by connecting the core to other walls using storey deep stabilisation walls, and permanent anchors were used to minimise excavation. It is also concrete framed, the evenly stacked concrete slab appearance visible from the exterior. Additionally, wind tunnel testing was carried out to ensure measures were adequate for resident comfort.

Adding to the complexity of the project, the old façade of the heritage listed Queensland Country Life Building was incorporated into the design. It was of course restored and the interior adapted for luxury accommodation.


Last, but not least, Soleil is currently Brisbane’s tallest building standing well above its runner up, Aurora Tower. With floor to ceiling windows on all sides, high ceilings, and top quality appliances, materials and fittings, Soleil was developed for downtown living.

Soleil’s developer, Meriton Group, now has its sights set even higher, with its next Brisbane skyscraper, Infinity, planned to be taller than Soleil.

In the near future this again may be overshadowed by another developer’s recently proposed 297 metre 111+222 mixed use tower.

As the resources industry continues to thrive in and around the Brisbane area, skyscrapers and high-rise apartments will continue to crop up, dotting the ever changing Brisbane skyline. What does the future hold for this picturesque cityscape? It seems that as economic growth soars so too does the height of the towers overlooking the Brisbane River.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 18, 2021, 9:10 PM AEDT