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The façade of the Provincial Building in downtown Johannesburg never fails to turn heads. It was preserved and incorporated into Surrey House in the early 1990s. Below is an overview of events compiled by Johann Bruwer (published courtesy of the City of Johannesburg).
In May 1989, Wreckers (Pty) Ltd. applied to the City of Johannesburg for clearance to demolish the Provincial Building and Triangle House, situated on Stands 229 and 737, Marshallstown, respectively. The Provincial Building was shown to comprise of a basement (one level), a ground floor shop, and three floors of offices. The Triangle House consisted of a basement (one level), two office floors, and corrugated iron roof. According to the applicant, the buildings were to make way for a new multi-storey office development by Old Mutual Properties. On being informed of this, the NMC indicated that the buildings were both of aesthetic value and called for a meeting with the architects for the new development “to discuss ways of preserving these (i.e. the buildings) in whole or part.”
Provincial Building incorporated into Surrey House (The Heritage Portal)
In a letter dated 11 July 1989 to Old Mutual properties, the NMC again pointed to the conservation value of both buildings: “The buildings have aesthetic and historical interest. Triangle House is the older building. Unfortunately no building plans were available at the City Council’s offices so the exact date of construction and the identity of the architect are not known. It is certainly a rare example of this small scale development in the C.B.D. 2. Provincial Buildings, constructed in 1926 to the design of Hill Mitchelson, was identified in the R.A.U. reports as worthy of conservation. It is a gracefully proportioned and detailed building of small scale.”
In a letter dated 21 November 1990, the NMC informed the architects responsible for the new development, i.e. Portal Partnership Inc., of its decision to permit the demolition of Triangle House and the body of the Provincial Building, subject to the in situ intact retention and restoration of the front elevation of the latter building and the re-instatement of its shop fronts. To ensure the integrity of the Provincial Building façade, it was insisted that the new buildings should be set back not less than one metre from the street boundary at ground level; the canopy of the new building was not to be taken across or chip onto the Provincial Building façade; the end walls were to “be treated as party walls, using the same material from the parapet to street level; shops fronts were to terminate at the party walls; the existing roof profile of the Provincial Building was to “be returned to meet the new building façade at the respective upper levels...”
Demolition permits for the Triangle House and the body of the Provincial Building were issued by the NMC on 30 November 1990. This enabled Old Mutual Properties to proceed with its development, known as the Surrey House Development. It was anticipated to complete the new nine-storey office building by September 1992. The responsible professional team included Portal Partnership Inc. (Architects), Kampel Abramovitz Yawitch & Partners (Structural Engineers and Giuricich Bros (Pty) Ltd. (Main Contractor).
The Provincial Building (The Heritage Portal)
The restoration and incorporation of the main elevation of the Provincial Building in the second Surrey House, included plaster repairs to the front and sides of the old façade, new timber casement windows, the restoration of the old flag post and the complete redecoration of the façade.