Town Hall restoration – what a picture

Sydney Town Hall’s prominent sandstone façade will still preside over George Street while extensive heritage restoration works take place in coming weeks, thanks to a 20-metre-high mirror-image photograph wrapped around the scaffolding.

The photographic images of Sydney Town Hall are presently being printed onto a custom-made mesh with a five-metre-wide printer, and will be installed over one day by abseiling tradespeople when weather conditions are appropriate, and will be in position by 16 July.

The first stage of the extensive four-year $33 million conservation project will include the George Street façade of the building and the conservation of the clocktower, which is expected to take 20 months.

A team of specialists from RMA (sic) will safely remove asbestos from the sandstone blocks’ pointing before the extensive restoration works get under way.

Strict containment and decontamination procedures will be in place throughout this stage of the project, with all the work overseen by WorkCover, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the City of Sydney.

The asbestos waste will be double-bagged in specialist containers and transported in leak-proof vehicles to a licensed facility, under the strict guidelines of WorkCover NSW. Strict air monitoring will take place throughout the removal work.

To protect the workers’ hearing and the clock’s mechanism from dust, the 1884 timepiece will be wrapped in protective sheeting and will cease chiming over the next 18 months as restoration works take place.

Since February, expert stonemasons have been chipping, carving and chiselling sandstone blocks to craft the intricate capitals that sit atop the columns of the clocktower, and now six of the 10 sculptures are complete.

Seismic bracing work has also begun and will include the installation of metal reinforcements behind the clocktower columns, made from a high-tech stainless steel that is normally used to make submarine propellers.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said the clocktower restoration would ensure the 1884 timepiece continued to faithfully mark the hours for future generations of Sydneysiders.

“Sydney Town Hall is the civic heart of the city and one of Australia’s greatest sandstone buildings due to its intricate carvings and sheer scale,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City of Sydney has a responsibility to ensure this important heritage item is conserved and restored so its beauty can be appreciated for many years to come.”

Specialist heritage tradespeople from the Traditional Stonemasonry Company will soon remove the old lighting from the façade, in preparation for the installation of low-voltage LED lighting, which will be angled to highlight the building’s intricately carved sandstone.

Traditional Stonemasonry Company director James Ginter said his company would also install an on-site lab within their workspace and will employ a full-time specialist to undertake 24-hour air monitoring at several locations around the site while the asbestos was removed.

“We’ve been doing this kind of work since 1996 and I’m confident that all the necessary precautions are being taken and there will be no risk to the public,” Mr Ginter said.

For more information, visit cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/sydneytownhall

To see a video of the stonemasons working at Sydney Town Hall click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOZLkqLjdm0&feature=youtu.be

For more City of Sydney media releases go to sydneymedia.com.au

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