The City Administration Building was built to a design by architects Romberg and Boyd in association with local architects Wilson and Suters, who had also supervised previously the Cook Memorial Fountain in Civic Park. Work commenced in 1972 and was completed in 1977.
This building is one of those that’s grown on me. When I first came to Newcastle I thought it was a peculiar concrete toadstool. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). Now, I quite like it as a ‘full stop’ on the strip after NESCA House and City Hall. The circular plan lets pedestrians slip easily past from Wheeler Place, but practical office fit-out problems will remain as long as we keep using rectangular desks.
The building is a reflection of earlier concepts for a ‘pagoda-style’ structure to replace Civic Theatre. Can you imagine this?
NESCA House is located on the corner of King Street and Auckland Street, right next door to City Hall and across the road from Civic Park. It is a classic Art Deco style building designed by Emil Sodersten, and built for the Newcastle Energy Supply Council Authority (NESCA). The front portion of the building (facing King St) was finished in 1937, while a rear extension was added in the 1950′s. On the Auckland St side you can see the ‘joint’ where the stone cladding on the front portion has a radiused corner, against the flat cladding of the extension. In the photo below, you can see the slightly lighter coloured stone cladding of the 5 storey rear extension.
This is perhaps the finest Art Deco style building in Newcastle, and would have to be one of the best in Australia. If you think the front entrance looks like something out of Gotham City, you’d almost be right. The entrance was in fact used as a set in Superman Returns (2006) – as a bank.
Today NESCA House is called University House, as it is part of the University of Newcastle. I prefer NESCA House, mainly because hardly anybody knows what NESCA actually means.