Tonkin Zulaikha Greer was formed by Peter Tonkin and Brian Zulaikha in 1987, joined by Tim Greer in 1989 and by Roger O’Sullivan in 1992. Associate Directors are Julie Mackenzie, John Chesterman, Wolfgang Ripberger, Elizabeth Muir and Jeremy Hughes. The growth in size, expertise and reputation of the practice has been steady and consistent, with the core team of directors and associate directors maintaining a long-standing commitment to excellence.
The relationship between Brian Zulaikha and Peter Tonkin was cemented when both contributed to the 1988 restructuring of the whole of Sydney’s Circular Quay, a multiple-award winning project that saw the public waterfront of the city opened for the first time to the people and furnished with unifying architecture and landscape of the highest quality. TZG’s first major building, the challenging design of a complex production library for the Royal Blind Society, won the practice its first RAIA award, and set a standard of innovation, exploration and achievement that has been continued with each new job.
The foundation for the firm’s expertise in conservation and museum work was laid with the restoration of the 1817 Hyde Park Barracks as a museum for the Historic Houses Trust. The Museum opened in October 1991 and has received State and National RAIA awards for conservation, a national award for ‘Museum of the Year’, and has maintained its relevance and design quality over its 17 year lifespan. The rigorous but challenging approach to the conservation and interpretation of the building’s fragile but significant fabric broke new ground in 1991, and set an Australia-wide standard for a contemporary approach to the past.
Subsequent work which has combined conservation and new cultural uses has been varied and exciting, spanning from the major refurbishment of the historic Customs House at Circular Quay for the Sydney City Council as a multi-use cultural focus at the gateway of the city, opened for the 2000 Games, to the CarriageWorks Contemporary Performing Arts Centre in the 1880s Eveleigh Carriageworks, opened for the Sydney Festival in 2007 and the adaptation of a listed 1950s power station as a regional art centre at the Casula Powerhouse.
Other projects have focused on heritage buildings of a more robust nature, or redundant industrial sheds. Projects such as the Verona and Norton Street Cinema complexes are both conversions from disused industrial buildings, whilst the Rocks Square developed a civic square and retail centre from a collection of redundant buildings including an underground carpark. The Newtown Silos was the redevelopment of a group of wheat silos into a successful, award-winning apartment complex.
The progress to large new buildings for public and private uses has again been steady, and is marked by our new Glasshouse: Hastings Cultural Centre at Port Macquarie, opened in 2009, with a 620 seat proscenium theatre and major Regional Gallery, and the landmark redevelopment of the Scots Church at Wynyard as an apartment building.
Urban scale work includes strategic initiatives for the National Capital Authority addressing placemaking and wayfinding in the ceremonial heart of Canberra, the Arts/Law campus of the Parliamentary Triangle and the competition winning design for the 240 Ha Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens, to open in 2008. At Sydney’s Olympic site, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer were responsible, with specialist sub-consultants, for the design of the paving, lighting, street furniture and signage for the entire Olympic site. A focal part of this work was a series of 19 Plaza Pylons – 35m tall, solar powered lighting and amenity towers for the 1.6 km Olympic Plaza. In 2009 TZG completed work on the multi-award winning Paddington Reservoir Gardens, a new urban public space for the City of Sydney.
The practice has maintained a focus on the visual arts, with collaborations on built works, commissioned artworks and collaborative installation pieces. Leading examples include the iconic Vietnam Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, in Canberra, and most recently The Australian War Memorial in London.
TZG’s young and energetic team of architects has worked together since the late 1980’s on a wide range of public and private projects. They have developed efficient procedures for navigating the design though the construction period, all the time maximising the potential in the process. TZG embraces the future with confidence in technology, fascination for history and enthusiasm for the sense of place to be found within the site for any new project.