Challenging the status quo at Intercontinental Hotel Sydney

29 June 2022​

Built is currently undertaking an ambitious refurbishment of one of the world’s most iconic hotels, Intercontinental Sydney for owner and developer, Mulpha. The project brings together Built’s wealth of experience across luxury hotels, working in live environments and heritage restoration.

Since undertaking the ECI process in 2019, Built has responded to challenges by finding innovative solutions to achieve the strongest outcome for the client, hotel operator and guests.

The refurbishment consists of five stages, beginning with a full upgrade of the building’s services, the complete refurbishment of all guest rooms, public area works on levels five and six, upgrading the wellness amenities on the rooftop level and creating a new bar, and a restoration of the building’s heritage components.

One of the greatest challenges of the project centred around undertaking such a major refurbishment while the hotel continued to operate and host high end guests with minimal disruption. Critical to this was a well-managed and precise programme of works to allow the hotel to manage bookings and have the works completed as efficiently as possible.

To support this, Built ran an extensive Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process involving thorough investigations to plan and design all elements of the project, while also identifying any issues that could add delays and finding solutions to mitigate potential risks. Through this process, Built discovered that the building services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning required upgrading and would need to be replaced. Through extensive planning, Built replaced the services with minimal disruption to the hotel operations.

Following the successful upgrade of the building services, Built is refurbishing all 509 guest rooms of the hotel, including replacing the windows with full glass panels for uninterrupted harbour views. With 587 windows across the building requiring replacement, Built undertook significant planning to design a custom solution to replace the windows internally, rather than the standard method of using a mast climber to replace the windows from the outside which would have impacted guest amenity.

“It’s one of the more complex parts of our scope and one that we worked on significantly during the ECI to come up with a strategy that would provide the least disruption to the hotel and allow for a quick and most importantly safe installation of the windows,” said Built Construction Manager Adam Arnold.

“The initial stage was to design a window that could be installed internally easily and be done in a way that’s safe, fits in lifts and can be weather sealed to the same degree as a window replaced from the outside. From there, the next challenge was to measure all 587 windows externally and internally, which took about three weeks and all while the hotel was fully operational. Surprisingly, all the windows came in within 5mm of each other, so the builders who originally installed the windows back in the day did a great job,” continued Adam.

As well as a complete refurbishment of all guest rooms, the public areas on levels five and six are also undergoing upgrades, including building a new bar, lobby and restaurant. The roof level will include a full level of wellness, including gym, pool and sauna, as well as upgraded function rooms, reception area, and a new rooftop bar. The original heritage features of the 1851 Treasury Building will also be restored, revealing the signature sandstones of one of Sydney’s most iconic buildings.

Built’s ability to work as an invisible contractor on complex refurbishment projects has driven an extensive track record in luxury and high end hotel work which has included the Park Hyatt, Hilton and Four Season’s hotels in Sydney alone.

“Our key starting point has been to understand how the hotel operates, from how the staff use the building at the back of house and their needs for the loading docks and service lifts so that we can tailor our approach to best suit their needs. We find ways to collaborate with our client so we’re all working together to achieve the best outcome. For someone who works on hotels like myself working on an iconic property like the InterContinental in Sydney is a once in a lifetime job,” concluded Adam.

Let’s work together