It has been described as one Australia’s most recognizable buildings after the Sydney Opera House, but this icon is set for a face lift.
Townsville’s Sugar Shaker hotel has defined the city skyline for more than 46 years with its original brown sandstone color.
But now the building’s exterior is being completely repainted, prompting admirers to sift through its history.
The hotel will maintain its silhouette, which resembles a sugar shaker with a distinctive spout-like shape at its peak.
Dr Mark Jones, a prominent Architect and Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, said the Sugar Shaker had become one of the most recognizable buildings in Australia.
“Most imagery of Townsville incorporates this building, not dissimilarly to the Sydney Opera House,” he said.
“I don’t think, apart from those two examples, there’s another building in Australia that so exemplifies the city in which it’s located.”
Dr Jones said at the time the building opened in 1976 as Hotel Townsville there were two similar properties in the country; the Tower Mill Hotel in Brisbane, and Australia Square in Sydney.
“I suspect that the architects for the Sugar Shaker drew some inspiration from those two buildings,” he said.
“But they went a step further with this interesting enclosure on the roof air conditioning cooling towers that gives it a sugar shaker shape.”
46 years after the building was erected in Townsville, debate on whether the resemblance was intentional continues.
“I’m not sure if they were directly thinking of a sugar shaker or if that came from people afterwards,” Dr Jones said.
“Either way, it’s a wonderful symbol for cane-growing region.
“I can’t think of another example, except for the sort of kitschy big banana and big pineapple-type installations.”
Director of marketing for lobby group Townsville Enterprise Lisa Woolfe said there were several local theories about the design.
“Apparently, it was modeled off a sugar shaker that was sold in a nearby cafe,” she said.
“But I have also heard over the years people refer to it as a lipstick.”
Townsville’s deputy mayor Mark Molachino said he suspected the architects were intentional with their design.
“I don’t know the history of design, I will be honest,” he said.
“But whoever did design it has made it look as close to a sugar shaker as possible, so they have done a good job with the likeness.”
The hotel has been known as Centra Townsville, Townsville International Hotel and Holiday Inn over the years, but is currently owned by Hotel Grand Chancellor.
Manager Paul Gray said it was a “daunting” task to choose a new color for the “iconic” building.
“Locals are very passionate about the Sugar Shaker, but it did need a refresh,” Mr Gray said.
The refurbishment, including a complete repaint of the building, is due to be completed by the end of August.
“The building itself is being painted in grey,” Mr Gray said.
“It’s going to have white running up the risers, just to break it up a little bit as well.
“I think it’ll tie in quite nicely with the buildings around the city and look a lot more modern.”