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PostPosted: 01 May 2006, 14:16 
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Jedi Master
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Text from Melbourne Architecture

Former Auditorium Building
167-173 Collins Street

1913 Nahum Barnet

Announcing its stylistic origins as hailing from Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building in Chicago, Barnet’s building of the same name follows Louis Sullivan’s recipe for the high rise, stretching the tripartite division of the early Renaissance palazzo vertically using the Romanesque arch for the shaft of the tower.
Designed as offices and a live theatre, this is Barnet’s central city masterwork, though altered over the years from a cinema in the 1930s to a failed boutique department store, competitor to Georges, in the mid-1980s. Despite these internal changes, the wrought-iron filigree work, Romanesque arched entry and oriel bay windows bear comparison with the Centreway Building as heralding a new standard for city commercial buildings after 1910.

A photograph of my own below, second from right.

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How it looked in 1935, below.

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PostPosted: 02 May 2006, 21:35 
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Only the exterior of this building remains in a (mostly) original state. The interior has been totally gutted and altered. This is an elegant example of "blood and bandages"


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PostPosted: 03 May 2006, 12:08 
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Shame about the buildings closer to the left.

None of them still exist.

The 1990s KPMG infill building is there now, but does anyone know when these were actually demolished ?


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PostPosted: 19 Jan 2007, 10:12 
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The 40 metre limit was established for a reason.
It keeps the retail core civilised.
Anyway, I personally can't see the "design strengths" of what is just another glass box with a superficial environmental rating.
Don't mess with it.
I can understand why the National Trust wants to fight this one.

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http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/ ... 35032.html

Melbourne's Anglican Church is concerned that its landmark St Paul's Cathedral is being "crowded out" by skyscrapers. It is preparing to again defend the cathedral's position on the city skyline.

An offshoot of Sydney banking giant Macquarie has bought 171 Collins Street, near Swanston Street, and is proposing an 88-metre glass tower that would create a new backdrop to the lower spires of the church.

But Macquarie's financial muscle looks set to be challenged in Melbourne's spiritual, heritage and government realms with the church, National Trust and Melbourne City Council already raising concerns.

Although all three have noted the architectural quality of the $240 million project — its "crystalline" appearance has an ethereal, almost heavenly, feel about it — all agree that the height and potential to overpower the cathedral is problematic.

The proposed retail and office building would be more than twice the recommended 40-metre height limit for that site and a significant addition to the skyline from the south.

The Anglican Dean of Melbourne, David Richardson, yesterday said the Macquarie tower was the latest in a gradual encroachment on St Paul's, which is undergoing a $15 million to $20 million facelift. "If you view the cathedral from the Rialto, you can really see how much it has been dwarfed and lost among the cathedrals of commerce and industry."

Dean Richardson stressed the Anglicans had not taken a formal decision on the tower, which he described as "quite an exciting looking building". But he said he had concerns about its impact on the spires and overshadowing of the cathedral precinct.

Boasting a five-star energy rating and new pedestrian link from Flinders Lane and Collins Street, it is being widely praised for its positive contribution to the city at street level. It would also return the facade of the historic Mayfair building in Collins Street to its original grandeur.

"We are proposing to deliver a new generation of office space that will add to Melbourne's design excellence," Macquarie Office Trust chief executive Adrian Taylor said.

But in the development world, such positives almost always come with a catch. And the catch in this case is sacrificing the central city's jealously guarded height limit.

Under a long-standing strategic vision, championed in particular by former Cain government planning minister Evan Walker, the area around the Swanston Street spine and between Elizabeth and Russell streets was to remain low-rise, with buildings climbing to the east and west. The height limit on the Macquarie site is still 40 metres, although it is a preferred, not mandatory, limit.

Councillor Brian Shanahan said the council viewed the Macquarie project as offering many benefits, but the downside was the impact on the skyline. "So there's the rub," he said.

The National Trust is preparing to oppose the building, while recognising its design strengths.

Planning Minister Justin Madden will have final say on the proposal. But the Anglicans may be hoping for intervention from even higher places.

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Proposed building from Flinders Lane

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Existing height limited Collins Street facade

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Say goodbye to the scenic backdrop ...


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PostPosted: 24 Jan 2007, 18:42 
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I noticed that the new Macquarie development includes 167-173 Collins and so includes the refers to the red-brick and balconied Mayfair Theatre building of which William Pitt has been kind enough to put up a photograph for us. This is by no means the first time plans have been put forward for this site, nor the first time this site has been redeveloped, so in fact we are very lucky indeed to still be looking at the shell of the original Collins Street building.

Completed in 1913 to a design by Charles Neville Hollinshead, this eight-storey structure originally included a 1480-seat concert hall known as Tait’s Auditorium. Within a few years, the Auditorium was also being used as a film venue; Lon Chaney starred there in The Phantom of the Opera in 1926.

In 1933, the hall was gutted and the single-screen Metro Theatre was constructed within the interior space, retaining the exterior shell and the floors above facing Collins Street. This Metro (not to be confused with the ex-movie theatre, now nightclub, at the top of Bourke Street) was the first MGM theatre in Melbourne, opening in April, 1934. Unusually, given that Art Deco styling was in full flight around this period for movie theatre interiors, MGM went with the French Empire - Louis XVI style for the Metro. The main entrance lobby had a patterned terrazzo floor in black and cream, the skirtings were of polished black Belgian marble, and the walls were lined with Queensland walnut veneer.

Greater Union took over the theatre in 1971. Then, in 1975 it went to independent operation and the name was changed to The Mayfair Theatre for a short time until it closed for good on 27 Feb 1982.

Shortly after, the building was sold and converted into a multi-level retail complex known as Figgins Diorama that was spectacularly unsuccessful. In mid-1987, not taking the hint, Sir Donald Trescowthick handed over a mere $14.5 million to purchase this black hole and create one of his own which he called, with absolutely no trace of ego, The Shop of Shops. It didn’t even last two years, and after retailers had abandoned its upper levels it was handed over to those well-known school property investors Baillieau, Knight and Frank for sale.

At the beginning of September, 1989, David Marriner’s Fulham Holdings bought the property for $22 million as part of a bid to redevelop the City Square. At $9300 a square metre, it was said to be the best property sale in the CBD up to then for that year. But in July of the following year, the MCC passed over Marriner’s City Square bid in favour of the more modest and by far less visionary and totally boring proposal of the Lustig and Moar Group.

The next month Marriner released plans for three massive Melbourne developments: the $25 million restoration and re-development of the Regent Theatre in Collins Street, the $145 million total redevelopment of the former Vickers-Ruwolt site in Victoria Street, Richmond, and an $85 million re-development of the Auditorium/Mayfair Theatre site in Collins Street. To be known as The Ritz-On-Collins, the latter would include a two-level casino, hotel, restaurant and 500-seat theatre that would be home to the Melbourne Theatre Company on a site which would include the Auditorium/Mayfair building and two other neighboring buildings to the west and behind through to Flinders Lane, Lush Lane and Watson Place.

However, Marriner had released the plans as a form of pre-emptive strike without gaining formal approval from the state government of the time. In the end, they decided to go with the current casino alongside the Yarra and Marriner never won money on this particular gamble and the Auditorium/Mayfair building remained mixed retail and office use. However, in the long run, Marriner and Melbourne did benefit from the other two parts of his proposal – the redevelopment of the Vickers-Ruwolt site in Richmond and the restoration of the Regent Theatre.

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PostPosted: 25 Jan 2007, 22:33 
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^^Your research is always very thorough, but I do have a question concerning the Vickers-Ruwolt site, isn't it a SALTA development?
Did Mariner off-load it to SALTA or is he a part owner?
I'm just wondering whether Mariner is partly responsible for that hideously designed Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre. :?

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