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The life and death of great hotels: a building biography of Sydney’s ‘The Australia’

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This paper develops the idea of the ‘building biography’ in order to examine the ontology of large city hotels as they undergo redevelopment. The paper draws on archival research on one of Sydney’s most famed hotels, The Australia, exploring how it was periodically repositioned by management and shareholders within the changing time‐spaces of Sydney’s urban economy between its opening in 1891 and its demolition in 1971. We highlight the importance of American hotel management principles, standards and techniques, and internal debates surrounding maintenance and refurbishment. We consider the importance of ‘demolition narratives’ and their links to the collective memory of guests, Sydney residents and hotel workers, and stress the importance of local property markets in the construction of the hotel as an anachronism.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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