The former Bank of New South Wales office building is a landmark structure positioned on one of the most important intersections of the city- the corner of North Terrace and King William Street. At the time of its construction it was one of the city’s tallest structures. It now serves as an important example of the types of buildings erected in the Second World War period and the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings in the city.
The building was constructed between 1938-1941 as the Adelaide head office of the Bank of New South Wales. At the time, the Bank of New South Wales had recently opened a new building on Collins Street in Melbourne, and it was decided that a new Adelaide office should be constructed in a similar style.
The building was designed by architects Philip R. Claridge, Colin Hassell and Jack McConnell. Construction was slow as the building industry faced significant disruptions brought on by the war. Many of the city’s buildings took years to complete because of the lack of labour and building restrictions imposed during this time.
When the building opened in 1941 it was described as “one of Australia’s most outstanding buildings”. Architecturally the building’s design details were austere and the “jazz” and “waterfall” elements typical of the period. Reminiscent of much European architecture of the inter-war years, it exemplifies the reduction of the Classical design system to essential elements such as base, pilasters, cornice and horizontal termination.
Westpac Bank eventually took over the building, and when the bank left in 2008, the building stood empty for nearly five years. In 2013, Hassell was commissioned to undertake the refurbishment of the six-storey building- perhaps fittingly as the building was the first major project of the same architecture firm in 1938. As stated on their website, “It's not often designers get to refurbish the building that launched their practice 75 years earlier.” During the renovations, many of the original details of the heritage-listed building were retained, including the original bank chamber! It is now the home of Jamie’s Italian restaurant and 2KW Bar and Restaurant.