One of Sydney’s oldest and most treasured shopping destinations, the QVB is celebrating 120 glorious years since first opening its doors in 1898. This building has seen it all from horse and carts, to the CBD growing in to a city of skyscrapers and which will soon have the new Sydney Light Rail outside its doors – all this change but it still remains one of the most iconic buildings in Sydney thanks to all the managers and the public who sought to preserve it over the years. In 2010 the building was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register for its heritage significance.
To commemorate the milestone, the QVB will celebrate drawing on the rich history and honouring the stories that are the fabric of this Sydney icon. In many ways the QVB has been a witness to the life of the city and remains a building unparalleled in Australia, in scale and architectural style. Its exuberant sandstone façade hasn’t changed much, even with the threat of demolition in 1959, and it’s Romanesque style has since proven to stand the test of time.
Vicinity Centres Regional General Manager, Daniel Sutton, said “QVB is a quintessentially Sydney shopping destination for customers, both local and from abroad. It has, for generations, been part of the fabric of the CBD. QVB is also an icon of Australian retail which is why we’re proud to be able to celebrate this milestone.”
In 1898 the doors to the QVB were opened by the Mayoress of Sydney, Francis Harris, using a bespoke, intricately inscribed golden key. To launch the celebration, the QVB will begin with a call-out in search of its missing heirloom – the QVB key. As it invites the public to unlock memories and share their own.
Joe Bananas is one of the oldest retailers at the QVB and recalled fondly, “The first week the store was open at the QVB; we had a beautiful coat displayed in the window featuring Australian emblems. Elton John’s manager, John Reid, was in the QVB at the time, came in, bought it for Elton and went back to a yacht in Sydney Harbour where Elton was being entertained. Within an hour, three limousines pulled up, and in came Elton with his party all dressed in swimmers. He said, “I’ll have this, and this…oh what the hell, I’ll take one of everything.” He signed his credit card and shared the delivery address.”
To honour the theme of unlocking memories the QVB are partnering with designer James Dive and Scoundrel Projects to create an ambitious installation. Customers will be delighted to witness a unique three-dimensional art installation which will take form as a five-metre-high keyhole – named aptly as the QVB Memory Lock. Inspired by the ‘Love Locks’ of Pont des Arts footbridge over the River Seine, the structure will feature laser cut panels inspired by the building itself, illuminated from within. A replica 4.8 metre key will hang above, suspended from the dome as an ode to the key that opened the building 120 years ago.
Inside the immersive sculpture, customers can share and immortalise their most treasured QVB moment by placing a numbered padlock on the installation. By sharing on social with #QVB120, it also enters them in draw to win a high tea experience for six at the iconic Tea Room.
On Thursday 19 July the QVB hosted an official birthday event under the dome with retailer pop-ups, live music and entertainers as well as a Mumm Cordon Rouge champagne bar, Penfolds wine and bespoke QVB cocktails.