Ithaca Gardens by Harry Seidler

10/04/2017

Harry Seidler AC OBE (1923 – 2006) was one of Australia’s most successful, prolific and avant-guard architects. He studied under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer and worked with Alvar Aalto & Josef Albers. Siedler and his projects were awarded dozens of accolades in both Australia and abroad including the AIA Gold Medal in 1976 and RIBA Gold medal in 1996. Harry was also one of the founding members of the Australian Architecture Association. His wife Penelope Seidler AM currently heads up the firm Harry Seidler and Associates that is still going strong.

Harry was a great businessman and would, apparently, regularly take apartments in his buildings as payment. Harry and Penelope lived in one of the apartments in Ithaca Gardens until they built the Harry and Penelope Seidler House in Killara (1967), another architectural gem. It is considered that Harry brought apartment living to Australia and also helped instigate the strata title ownership model as opposed to company title which is still most common in the US. Company title is something the Nightingale apartments are reintroducing today.

Some of Seidler’s most memorable buildings include Australia Square, Grosvenor Place, the Aquarius Apartments, Milson’s Point apartments and their current offices, Blues Point Tower apartments, Rose Seidler House and the Shell Building in Melbourne.

This is the entry canopy to the ‘Ithaca Gardens’ apartment building in Elizabeth Bay (1960). I lived here until 2002 and it was a beautiful modernist building to inhabit, located in the heart of Sydney commanding spectacular views of the harbour it didn’t get much better. The roof top is common property for laundry facilities and clothes drying so the concept of penthouse apartments hogging the top floors was avoided. The design of this canopy is also replicated at the rear of the building for the parking areas with the most extraordinary piece of engineering to create a column free run of cantilevered and folded roofs that is well worth a look.