Verco Building

Verco Building

Verco Building and the former Kither's Building,

now known as Opalfield House, King William Street, contribute to an understanding of the development of reinforced concrete construction in Adelaide. While they were architecturally clumsy in comparison with later efforts, the Verco Building successfully reinterpreted traditional styles in the rusticated 'wings' of the North Terrace facade, visually binding together a series of bay windows. The handling of the rustication, and the use of oversized keystones to link with cornices and to support bay windows, is of particular interest. The facade to Stephens Place is less successful. Dr William Alfred Verco was a nephew of Sir James Verco, an eminent Adelaide doctor who became leader of the medical profession in 1887 when he was elected president of the First Intercolonial Medical Congress of Australia held in Adelaide.

W.A. Verco was equally brilliant. At Medical School W.A. Verco topped his year for five years, won Professor Rennie's prize for chemistry and Sir Thomas Elder's much-coveted prize for physiology. He was also the first Everard Scholar and was made Honorary Prosecutor of Anatomy in 1888. He became house physician and obstetric assistant at the Adelaide Hospital before moving into private practice. In 1890 the Pictorial Australian suggested 'that the young doctor might become a brilliant ornament on the roll of South Australian physicians and continue to grace the noble profession which he has adopted'. He then took over his uncle's private practice and residence in Molesworth Street, North Adelaide. At the height of his success Dr Verco went into real estate, buying the former residence of Dr Allan Campbell and demolishing it to have Adelaide's tallest building constructed on the site in 1912. Although skyscrapers had been built since the mid-1880s in Chicago, it was 1911 before an Adelaide newspaper announced the news of a 'skyscraper for Adelaide', which would ' . . . add materially to the appearance of a handsome thoroughfare, and will be an addition to the architectural modernity of the Queen City'. This was Eric H. McMichael's first architectural commission of note and made possible by his marriage to Constance Verco. This commission, according to Michael Page, ' . . . launched him on to what was to become one of Adelaide's most successful practices between the wars'.

The trend of doctors taking professional rooms in North Terrace began around 1880. By 1914 there were approximately forty-four doctors, surgeons and physicians, including a Chinese specialist known as Lum Yow. The trend continued. By the 1960s there were over 160 doctors in rooms on North Terrace. This does not include dentists, opticians, chiropodists, psychologists and other health professionals. North Terrace was firmly established as the 'Harley Street' of Adelaide, with the Verco Building encouraging this trend. The building was extensively refurbished internally in 1980-81. At this time original windows were also replaced, every cornice removed and a new top floor in a mansard roof was added.

The building is now part of the Myer Centre.

Notes

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Significance

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This building is one of the earliest and most complete of Adelaide's reinforced concrete buildings to have survived. It was built as Adelaide's tallest building and the first high-rise block on North Terrace, hastening its change from residential to commercial use. The Verco Building is also important to the environment of North Terrace as one of several buildings which create a significant streetscape. This impact has been retained with the incorporation of the North Terrace and Stephens Place facades into the Myer Centre.

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Images of Verco Building

  • Verco Building, 2014
 
Architects
Eric McMichael
Builders
Building materials
Concrete
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915)
Construction
1911 -  

Additional Works

Mansard Roof Added

Description
Construction commenced
9/4/1980
Construction completed
9/4/1981
Architecture and design features
Bay window, dormer window, gable
Engineering features
 
Precinct
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Central
Alternative Addresses
Geo-coordinates
Town Acre
18
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Dr William Alfred Verco
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office
AS2482 classification
11510 - Business House - Offices
Public Access
Business/trading hours
 
NTSA ID
3623
State Heritage ID
13363
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
1615
RNE ID
1615
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5081/692 F30802 A14
NTSA file exists
Yes
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA registered
Date of NTSA listing
1984/05/17
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
 
Historic Themes
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.8 New Technology and City Development
3.6 Professional Services
3.6.2 Early Hospitals and the Medical Profession
4.3 Development of the Building Industry, Architecture and Construction
4.3.3 Building Materials
 
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation
ACHHK116
 

References

  • ACA, Annual report 1911,
  • p. 79, BSO, index; Digest of
  • Proceedings, 25 September
  • 1911; MLSA, Historical
  • photographs (Town Acre 18),
  • Lendon, A.A., The Medical
  • School of Adelaide 1885-
  • 1935; Old Parliament House
  • Library, Lands Department
  • photographs; Page, M.,
  • Sculptors in space, 1986, p.
  • 149; Pictorial Australian,
  • December 1890; South
  • Australian Directories, 1880-
  • 1935; South Australian
  • Register, 1 September 1896.

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