Written by root. Posted in FEATURES


Published on July 10, 2018 with No Comments

The architects who made Melbourne.



Joseph Reed was one of Melbourne’s most significant architects. His influence on Melbourne’s skyline was probably the most prolific; his architecture stamping its mark on the city in the ‘marvellous Melbourne’ era of the second half of the 19th century. An extremely versatile designer, the styles of his now iconic buildings range from the second empire Melbourne Town Hall, the neoclassical State Library of Victoria and the World Heritage Listed gothic architecture of the Royal Exhibition Building. All of Reed’s buildings are accessible to the public and many used for tours, major arts, cultural and other events.

The State Library Victoria offers free tours to guests and a programme of talks, lectures, exhibitions and events on all and every subject matter. The much revered Dome, or La Trobe Reading Room, was added by designer Norman Peebles in 1913. The library is opening further renovated spaces as part of its 2020 vision.

Moving into the 20th century, the much-admired Manchester Unity Building on Swanston Street is a striking example of the commercial gothic style of the era. Built in 1932 during the great depression by progressive local Marcus Barlow, the architect thought Melbourne needed to emulate the great skyscrapers in America and was inspired by the Chicago Tribune building. It was Melbourne’s tallest building when it was completed. Visitors can walk through and admire the detail and elegance of the interiors and grab a coffee at Switchboard, one of the smallest cafes in the city.

Regent Theatre was designed by Cedric Ballantyne and built by James Porter & Sons. Completed in 1929, it was to be part of a franchise of some of the most lavish and largest theatre cinemas in Australia, demonstrating the city’s early adoption of arts, popular culture and entertainment. The style is a combination of Spanish Gothic and French Renaissance. The Spanish Baroque and mediaeval style of the plaza ballroom was originally meant as a cabaret, but ended up being another cinema. The venue has had a colourful history and now the best way to appreciate its awesomeness is to see one of the many blockbuster theatre performances held there thanks to David Marriner who ensured the venue’s continued legacy in Melbourne’s cultural story.

The 21st century welcomed Melbourne’s piazza for the public, Federation Square. Designed by London-based Lab Architects after a global competition and built alongside Bates Smart, one of Melbourne’s most prominent architecture firms, it was officially opened in 2002. The space has been purpose built for arts, events, culture and tourism with an open amphitheatre to hold up to 15,000 people.

Home to arts institutions, ACMI and the Ian Potter Gallery Centre and NGV Australia, Fed Square as it is popularly known, has become the beating cultural heart of the city. A AUD5.4 million project will see the current outdoor big screen replaced by a “sculptural wall of interactive LED panels” high-definition screens that can function as one large screen, or display separate images, set to open mid-2018.

After ‘Fed Square’, Eureka Tower is the next major icon to change the face of Melbourne forever. At 297.3 metres, it is the second tallest building in Australia. The reflective golden panels with a red stripe is symbolic of blood spilt during the Eureka Stockade gold rush and can be seen from north to south of the city changing colours with the position of the sun. The project was designed by prolific modern day Melbourne architectural firm, Fender Katsalidis Architects, and officially opened on 11 October, 2006. It’s now home to Melbourne’s highest observation deck complete with the world’s first, The Edge, attraction.

To appreciate some of the more significant buildings and interiors in Melbourne and the architects and designers who built them, opt for architecture tours available with Melbourne Walks and Meltours.


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