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  • Record last updated 15 January 2015 | 1

    John Gorton Building, Parkes ACT formerly known as the Administration Building

    John Gorton Building, Parkes ACT.

    Source: Department of Finance, 2012

    Finance ID Number


    Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL) Place ID Number

    John Gorton Building: 105472

    A part of the Parliament House Vista: 105466

    Current Status (including CHL Place ID Number)

    The John Gorton Building is included on the Commonwealth Heritage List and Register of the National Estate. The John Gorton Building is also included as part of the Parliament House Vista as contributory elements (CHL Place ID: 105466 and RNE Place ID: 19128).

    The Central National Area has been nominated to the National Heritage List and is under consideration by the Australian Heritage Council (NHL ID: 106100).

    Ownership The John Gorton Building is managed by Department of Finance on behalf of the Commonwealth.

    Location The John Gorton Building is located in the north-eastern corner of Canberras Parliamentary Zone. The John Gorton Building and Communications Centre are a total block development located on Block 1 Section 35, Parkes, ACT. The site is bounded by King Edward Terrace to the north, Parkes Place to the west, King George Terrace to the south and Dorothy Tangney Place to the east. The property is located in the suburb of Parkes, three kilometres south of the Canberra City Centre.;search=state%3DACT%3Blist_code%3DCHL%3Blegal_status%3D35%3Bkeyword_PD%3D0%3Bkeyword_SS%3D0%3Bkeyword_PH%3D0;place_id=105472;search=place_name%3Dparliament%2520house%2520vista%3Bkeyword_PD%3Don%3Bkeyword_SS%3Don%3Bkeyword_PH%3Don%3Blatitude_1dir%3DS%3Blongitude_1dir%3DE%3Blongitude_2dir%3DE%3Blatitude_2dir%3D;place_id=105472;place_id=19128;place_id=19128;place_id=13371;place_id=19128;search=place_name%3Djohn%2520gorton%2520building%3Bkeyword_PD%3Don%3Bkeyword_SS%3Don%3Bkeyword_PH%3Don%3Blatitude_1dir%3DS%3Blongitude_1dir%3DE%3Blongitude_2dir%3DE%3Blatitude_2dir%3DS%25

  • Record last updated 15 January 2015 | 2

    Above: Location of the John Gorton Building. Source: Environment Resources Management, 2014 via Google maps

    Description The John Gorton Building lies within the Parliamentary Zone, Canberras ceremonial precinct featuring some of Australias most culturally significant buildings. These buildings include Parliament House, Old Parliament House, Defence Headquarters, Treasury Building, National Library and the High Court of Australia. The John Gorton Building is considered to be an example of the inter-war Stripped Classical Style and was designed to match the aesthetics of existing buildings in the Parliamentary Zone.


    The exterior of the building features cladding of a pale pink granite facade on the ground level, with sandstone cladding to the upper floors. The Stripped Classical Style has resulted in minimal ornamentation of the building. As part of this style, the John Gorton Building features symmetrical portico and restrained spandrels between the storeys of the building.

    The John Gorton Building comprises of a ground floor, six upper floors (including a plant room on level six), a basement, a sub-basement, and a Communications Centre. Access to the building is provided on all four facades of the building. The entrance on the west facade differs to the other entranceways as it is raised and features ornate period style doors handles. A heavy set of aluminium-faced portico is supported by pink granite clad pillars that provides access to the north of the building via a publically accessible cafe. Access to the south facade provides access way to the Department of the Environment reception.

    Major facade conservation works to the sandstone commenced in 2013 and the interior has been refurbished several times although original finishes have been retained in all public areas. The roof was replaced during 1996-8 and comprises of ribbed clip lock metal sheeting. There is also copper cladding over each of the wings, lead flashing to parapets and steel framed skylights above the light wells.

    The John Gorton Building features prominent guttering, water heads and downpipes of copper. In 2011, sections of the downpipes were affected by theft. A majority of downpipes were replaced with German oxidised copper welded to the existing copper downpipes, mounted to the granite. Two replacements involved Colorbond rather than copper in the most prominent locations to deter theft in the future.

  • Record last updated 15 January 2015 | 3

    John Gorton Building exterior Sources: Department of the Environment, unknown; Environment Resources Management, 2014;

    and Australian Heritage Photographic Library Barcode number: rt60288


    The interior of the John Gorton Building is divided between three tenancies, the Department of Finance, Department of the Environment and Cafe Milieu. The structural columns on each floor have been retained and incorporated into the current layout. The building comprises if a wide central corridor, light wells, lifts and stairwells. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are located on each floor. In 1996 (and reopened in 1999) John Gorton Building was closed to undertake demolitions and major refurbishments. As a part of the refurbishment works, eight of the 11 light wells were restored; three remaining light wells were converted into meeting rooms. Good quality and finely polished marble floors and terrazzo wall panels were retained, and stainless steel handrails and balustrades were installed in prominent areas to meet current code requirements. The entrance foyer accessed via the southern entranceway was extensively refurbished and contains highly polished timber flooring, mixed polished marble and stone clad concrete pillars, with a reinstated light well.

    The basement level contains bike storage, lockers, meeting rooms and a prayer room. The bathrooms and kitchenettes are similar in design, layout and materials across all levels and in all tenancies in the building. Work areas are open plan and extend away from the central corridor. Suspended ceiling panels have been installed to conceal modern air conditioning, lighting, telecommunication and electrical wiring. To maximise natural light, all offices and meeting rooms have at least one glazed wall.

    L to R: Interior of the John Gorton Building from the entrance of the Department of Finance side; entrance from the Department of the Environment side; and the second floor demonstrating high quality fit out materials.

    Source: Environment Resources Management, 2014.

    Landscape Setting

    The John Gorton Building plays a significant role, along with the Treasury Building, in balancing the land axis as design by Walter Burley Griffin. The John Gorton Building also contributes to the heritage values of the Parliament House Vista.

    The building takes up the majority of the block of land, and is complemented by well maintained grounds surround John Gorton Building, including substantial lawns, mature plane trees, a large car park with mature trees and raised planter beds within pink granite planter boxes on either side of the entranceway.;barcode_no=rt60293;barcode_no=rt60288

  • Record last updated 15 January 2015 | 4

    A paved central-northern courtyard features a central sculpture fountain constructed in granite that is consistent with surrounding building materials. To the east of the fountain are two eucalypt plantings, which do not appear to be a part of the original fountain design and are not a component of the earlier, exotic plantings in the immediate landscape.

    Mature plane trees to the north of John Gorton and a fountain looking north to King Edward Terrace.

    Source: Environment Resources Management, 2014.

    Heritage Objects and Collections

    The cultural heritage significance of the John Gorton Building is enhanced by its moveable heritage items, which either directly relates to the purpose of the buildings and/or through significant artworks. The John Gorton building features several artworks and displays. These artworks include the bust of John Gorton and Aboriginal artworks including Larrakitj Poles, Glass panel titled Tjapatji Bates, and a painting titled Four Arches by Limmen Bight Country.

    Part of the artwork collection includes winning entries in the National Indigenous Heritage Art Award and a collection of paintings of small marsupials and birds. The reception desk in the foyer features paintings by artists from Melville Island (Commonwealth of Australia, 1999).

    Photographs and original artworks are used throughout the building, particularly in public spaces and the meeting rooms. Large photographs in the foyer include close-ups of bark, rocks and stonewalls. Photographs and artwork for the key meeting rooms follow the themes established by the meeting room names: Waratah, Banksia, Burra, Reef, Aurora, and Uluru.

    Interpretation of the history of the Joh