5 Martin Place Sydney also known as the “Money Box Building” originally owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The Commonwealth Bank came into being after the passage of a Federal Act of Parliament in November 1911. The Act provided for a single governor in an effort to protect the Bank from future political interference. Denison Samuel King Miller was appointed the first governor in June 1912 and he in turn appointed his architect cousin, John Kirkpatrick, designer for all Commonwealth Bank Buildings throughout Australia and ultimately all Commonwealth funded war service homes. Miller, a Sydneysider, also selected Sydney as the location for the Commonwealth Bank’s national headquarters. He selected a prominent site at the intersection of Pitt Street and Moore Street (later to become part of Martin Place.
The foundation stones of the building were laid by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher and Denison Miller on 14 May 1913, a day marked by blinding rain squalls and newspaper reporters tossed by violent gusts of wind from high vantage points into the large crowd that had assembled for the event. By contrast, the day that the building was officially opened, 22 August 1916, boasted perfect sunny weather. The Governor-General, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, Prime Minister William (Billy) Hughes and the Bank Governor, Denison Miller, officiated at the ceremony. The presence of Billy Hughes lingered long after the opening ceremony – for a number of years afterwards he would sit in front of the building to review parading troops on Anzac Day.
Intended to be one of the most modern banking establishments in the world and echoing New York style skyscrapers, on completion in 1916 the Commonwealth Bank Building was recognised as one of Sydney’s outstanding office towers. Technologically advanced, it was amongst the very first to be constructed using a structural steel frame system, whilst aesthetically it highlighted architectural excellence, with both exterior and interior noted for their use of lavish materials and decoration.