AMP will throw open the doors to the company’s Sydney headquarters this Sunday, giving people a rare chance to peek inside one of the city’s landmark buildings.
33 Alfred Street in Circular Quay is one of the dozens of buildings welcoming the public for the annual ‘Sydney Open’ event.
While the AMP building has seen thousands of people come and go in its 56-years at Circular Quay there has been one almost constant presence since opening day.
74-year-old Herb Menka -- the man who has spent more time at 33 Alfred Street than anyone else.
"The viewing platform on the 26th floor was open to anyone..."
Herb began his career with AMP in 1961 and moved with the company into 33 Alfred Street when the building opened in 1962.
Aside from short stints at the company’s St Leonard’s and Parramatta offices he’s spent all his working career – and most of his life – overlooking the Sydney Harbour.
In his time with AMP he has moved from the calculations department to IT where he now works as a business analyst.
He remembers a time before open plan offices, flexible working times, and when there were no emails and much more paperwork.
While ‘Sydney Open’ provides an unusual opportunity for the public to access the building Herb recalls a time when visitors were a fairly common sight.
“The viewing platform on the 26th floor was open to anyone and there was no security stopping people from wandering into the office,” he said.
“The Canadian Embassy was also one of the original tenants and they occupied several floors which brought in a lot of visitors.”
When it opened in 1962 the 117-metre tall Alfred Street building loomed over Sydney as the city -- and the nations -- tallest tower.
It was the city’s first building to break a 46-metre height limit – a restriction that had, until then, been imposed since 1912.
But the height was not the only unusual thing about the AMP building.
33 Alfred Street’s appearance was like nothing that had ever been seen in the city before.
The building was designed as two parallel 26-storey towers, linked in the middle and creating an H-shape.
And just like Herb Menka remembers the top floor observation deck was open to the public offering unparalleled views of the city and the harbour.
Despite being an age when most people are thinking about retirement, Herb is adamant he has no intention of ending his near six-decade long link with AMP and 33 Alfred Street.
Even in the past he has resisted the urge to look elsewhere for work.
“I’ve had a couple of different job offers over the years,” he said
“But I’ve never seen any reason to move.”
Herb admits it has not all been plain-sailing though.
"When I think of AMP I think of history."
He said he found regular Thursday morning fire drills frustrating because they meant less time in the office working.
But, ultimately, he is grateful for the time he has spent with AMP.
And if he could tell visitors on the ‘Sydney Open’ day one thing it would be to really think about where they are standing when they visit 33 Alfred Street.
“When I think of AMP I think of history,” Herb said.
“I’m very proud to have been associated with the company for such a long time.”
1: Herb Menka stands on the level 26 observation deck, looking west over Sydney Harbour.
2: Sydney Harbour as seen from the level 26 observation deck.