In 1985 the Labor government commissioned a detailed urban design study from architects Denton Corker Marshall (DCM), which explored the constraints and opportunities of the site and a range of options for its development.1 The site was conceived as a gateway to the city, as a part of the civic axis, as a new urban precinct and as a linkage to the river. The report concluded that the area in front of the cathedral should be cleared to become an open plaza connecting the city to the river: 'The Plaza is a finger of the city floor reaching out to the river's edge. The river is a linear element that slices through the suburbs and gardens, and touches the central business district as it passes by'.2 There were, however, two conditions that made this connection difficult: a steep change of level from above the railway lines to river level; and a series of 1880s bluestone vaults with some heritage value that formed a blockage on the riverbank. The vaults served as retaining wall, toilets and ferry booking service. The report concluded that an effective connection of the city to the river required demolition of the vaults. The preferred design option was for a dauntingly vast open civic plaza extending south from St Paul's and stepping down to the river, bounded by new commercial development to the east.