Interview with Jonathan Bryant from GBA Heritage

Interview with Jonathan Bryant from GBA Heritage

Design, history and timeless elegance are key features of the Primus Hotel Sydney, and it couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the work of GBA Heritage.

As lead heritage architect involved in the restoration of the Primus Hotel Sydney, Jonathan Bryant was instrumental in making sure that the finished product remained a true representation of the original Waterboard building.

Navigating historical accuracy with modern necessity mustn’t be an easy task, but it was one that Bryant and his team executed with an incredibly eye for detail and vision.

Here’s what he had to say about the experience:


What was the biggest concern you had when taking on the Primus Hotel Sydney? 

Ensuring that we appropriately resolved the balance between retention of heritage significance and creating a wonderful, functional hotel.

Did you know much about the building before starting the project? 

I was aware of the building but most people didn’t know it existed.

Were there any surprises or unexpected features that you encountered during the work? We didn’t know if the original travertine floor still existed as it had been covered in the 1960s with concrete. Once the concrete topping had been removed, it was a wonderful to find it still intact.



What does it take for a building to become heritage listed? 

The building is state listed. A place or object is state significant if it is important for the whole of NSW. The Heritage Council has developed criteria to help establish whether an item is state significant. Once it has carried out an assessment, the Heritage Council advises the Minister to gazette the listing.

Is there a particular detail that you think is the most stand-out feature of the hotel? 

The amazing red scagliola columns.

What kind of research did you have to undertake to make sure that the Primus reflected the heritage details? 

We carried out historical research on the building including a search of the records of the City of Sydney, Sydney Water and the State Library of NSW.

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