51 Alfred St – Efficiency in commercial design

51 Alfred St A green star accredited office block constructed in one of Brisbane’s growing commercial areas, 51 Alfred St comprises of a ground floor retail space with 8 levels of office space above.

51 Alfred St, Fortitude valley was constructed by Blackwatch Projects, to the design of Willis Greenhalgh Architects. The sustainable design intended to minimise its carbon footprint was a urban friendly solution to council and the community. It includes a smart foyer, featuring floor to ceiling full height glazing on two street frontages, and superb views to the city above level 2.

G.James Role

Development of the project went from initial “design in principle” early drawings to installation of the finalised glazing products. The project had a short time frame, and lead times for manufacture and installation had to be carefully managed.

The building incorporates shopfront glazing from ground floor to level 1 that used the 850-500 and 650-500 series framing systems. Hinged doors are 475 or 476 series, with 445 series sliding doors (as on some upper levels, also). G.James picked up the cladding package for the ground floor columns, which was made and fitted by the G.James Joinery department. QuickAlly, G.James scaffolding division assisted with providing access to entry the shop front entry glazing.

Upper levels utilizes the 651-500 curtain wall suite. The design had to allow for the addition of randomly placed aluminium horizontal and vertical fins that use different shapes in keeping with the difference in direction. There are also composite cladding positioned irregularly across the southern face, and frames the edge of the eastern face.

All of the differences in cladding and sun shading incorporated into the curtain wall, made for a wide variety of specialist panels.  This required coordinating the transportation and installation of the panels to be highly organised. Careful design, preparation and on site works were given particular attention at the corner feature to achieve the seamless angled cladding and glazed finish that spans the full height of the buildings office area.

Glazing selection

IGU’s were used in the vision areas of the tower to combat city noise and provide sufficient thermal and solar efficiency to achieve the green star accreditation.

The spandrel area uses a colourlite backing on clear glass to achieve the opaque finish. Charcoal and White were used to keep in theme with the buildings monochromatic scheme that highlights the slash of copper that makes the corner feature stand out.


There was no tower crane available for this job, so all of the framing hoisted into the floors from a crane on the street below.  Including the “Spider Hulk”, the name of the lifting crane that positions the panels into place.

51 Alfred St

“Spider Hulk” is the name of the machine that lifts the panels into position on the building.

Early design intended the framing to be fixed into cast ins – a quick and minimal fixing method that utilizes the concrete structure to enclose and support the framing. Later changes, however, meant that the frame fixings were redesigned and engineered to be fitted with bolts into the concrete.

The ground floor was site glazed as the size of the glazing was so large. There was also a curtain wall panel that needed to be site glazed. This requires extra safety measures and some specialised techniques to carry out.

Blackwatch had a tight program which was run like clockwork. It enabled overall job satisfaction with the resulting installation of the work performed by G.James, and we look forward to working on further projects together.