Menu Close

Work of art: John Derrick

Envisioned as ‘a camera to the view’ with two striking crescent towers split by an elliptical core, which function as ‘convex lenses’ overlooking the Sydney Opera House on one side and Darling Harbour on the other, Grosvenor Place flawlessly fuses form with function.


This iconic building was designed in 1982 by celebrated Australian architect Harry Seidler to generate long-term value, which has been more than accomplished thanks to its progressive flexible open space and timeless beauty.

The 44-storey masterpiece was completed in 1989, yet timelessly lends itself to modern business needs.

With its sweeping harbour views thanks to sun-drenched, floor-to-ceiling windows; column-free floor plates, allowing for uninterrupted, customisable space; and before-its-time sustainable engineering, Grosvenor Place is much more than a work of art, it’s art that works.

“The success of Grosvenor Place is down to Harry Seidler’s original dream,” shares Grosvenor Place Executive Director John Derrick.

“It’s a beautifully designed, forwardthinking building. Harry Seidler was very insistent that all of his buildings, in particular Grosvenor Place, incorporated public and civic areas where people could mix, mingle and engage in discrete business conversations.”

The workplace has certainly evolved since the building was completed more than 30 years ago. Back then, it was normal for buildings, and thus, offices, to be more closed off and segmented.

As time passed, however, all that changed. The open-concept trend rose sharply in popularity. More of a mainstay than a fad, this style of work environment lends itself to modern business needs. To say Grosvenor Place was ahead of its time would be an understatement.


“Nowadays, the tendency is to be far more open-plan with flexible working space. To that end, Grosvenor Place has been able to accommodate that very easily because of the forward-thinking nature of Harry Seidler’s design,” he says.

“I’ll give you an example,” John continues. “Three years ago, the owners of the building invested in the external piazza. Thanks to Harry’s design, everything that was needed was already there.

They simply adapted the Piazza to cater to modern needs and at the same time invested in hotel-style end-of-trip facilities. And that very much mirrored the changing workplace needs for wellness, outdoor interaction and fitness.”

Currently, Grosvenor Place is looking at improvements aimed at increasing the usability of its civic and external areas. More and more businesses today are looking for something known as ‘third space’ – areas outside of their offices to meet informally.

To accommodate this growing demand, Grosvenor Place will soon be outfitted with a business lounge, situated perfectly amid its awe-inspiring lobby. John says it’s an area the owners are particularly keen to invest in to meet current market requirements.

“We work for our customers,” he says. “So anything that makes their business work better is an advantage to them and to us. We’re not merely in the business of leasing a floor of office space to an amorphous business. We’re about creating an environment that these businesses can be successful in.”

For that reason, he says innovation is critical to Grosvenor Place. Currently, lift controls are being retrofitted with the latest destination control technology, and the access control system is so sophisticated that it readily adapts to leading-edge biometric technology such as fingerprint control and face recognition.

I’m often met with comments about how wonderful it is to work here.

“When you have such an intrinsically welldesigned building and a group of owners that are prepared to invest in it, keeping at the forefront of technology is just taking continued steps forward,” John says.

“You never want to be stagnant. You constantly want to progress and improve. And Grosvenor Place is a great building for that.”

Progress is not limited to capital works, the tower has serious sustainability credentials and is constantly striving to achieve more to reduce its environmental footprint.

Grosvenor Place, this year, became the first commercial tower in Sydney to install a food dehydrator and achieve full-circle recycling. Food waste in the tower is dried out, converted to compost and distributed to farms in New South Wales.

“The impacts of the climate crisis are being felt across our country more than ever before and each of us have a part to play in making a change, the business community even more so,” John says.

“It’s important to speak constantly with your customers,” he stresses. “You have to make sure you understand their needs and the market overall. We actively support customer initiatives and promotions, particularly those incorporating sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

We’re here to create a business environment for them and that’s the businesses in Grosvenor Place and also their employees. Our customers come first.” However, it’s not all work and no play.

Grosvenor Place is revered for the “little touches” it weaves into the workplace. “Our customers need to be able to enjoy coming to work, to have something different, to have the interaction in the lobby, to see the artwork and take part in the events we carry out,” he explains.

“It’s those events that add to the tapestry that make coming to work at Grosvenor Place such a pleasurable experience. I’m often met with comments about how wonderful it is to work here.”

We’re not merely in the business of leasing a floor of office to an amorphous business. We’re about creating an environment that these businesses can be successful in.

The same rings true for the dedicated team at Grosvenor Place. The employees here share the same passion for the building, and it shows. “We have a dedicated team – some have been working in the building for 30 years,” John shares.

“Every Monday morning, they come into the office, and they’re punching well above their weight, looking for more. It’s a very passionate team that leans very much on the building and also sees customer service as their prime objective.”


As for John, he too loves coming to work here every day. Each day is filled with new, exciting challenges. And he welcomes them all.

“The biggest challenge is the sheer volume of opportunity there is at Grosvenor Place, which is probably also the biggest advantage of working here. There’s never a boring moment,” he says.

“Every day is different. There are always new challenges awaiting week after week – meeting people’s expectations, dealing with unexpected events and making sure the whole Grosvenor Place community ticks along and is happy and vibrant.”

Aiding Grosvenor Place in its journey to happiness and success is the building owners and a collection of key business partners that share the same passion. “We expect loyalty from our suppliers, and we give loyalty to them as well,” John shares.

“We expect them to buy into the dream and understand what we’re trying to achieve at Grosvenor Place. And when they understand that, they understand where we come from, where we’re going and what we’re striving to achieve in customer service.”

Download the Free Digital Issue of The CEO Magazine ANZ June 2020

Leave a Reply