Ritz Carlton Melbourne. © Far East Consortium

Puttin' on the Ritz at West Side Place

A number of media outlets have reported in recent days that hotel operator Ritz-Carlton has signed on for Far East Consortium's West Side Place development on the former Age site on Spencer Street. The 250 room hotel will be located on the top 15 floors of the Cottee Parker-designed 79-storey tower opposite Far East's current multi-tower project Upper West Side.

The Ritz-Carlton will boast hotel facilities and amenities such as a bar, high-end restaurant, spa centre, pool and gymnasium. A sky lobby check-in will greet guests with the Ritz-Carlton to be Australia's tallest/highest hotel. In addition to approximately 750 apartments absorbing the remainder of the tower, provision for 465 resident parking spaces and 30 hotel parking spaces will be located in the sub and podium levels.

Ritz-Carlton Melbourne will be the second for both the hotel operator and Far East Consortium after securing prime development within the Elizabeth Quay urban renewal project in Perth.

Ritz Carlton at Elizabeth Quay, Perth. © Far East Consortium

A second 260 suite hotel of 3 to 4 stars will be located within within the podium and lower levels of Tower 3, on the corner of an expanded Merriman Lane and Little Lonsdale Street with a north-east aspect. Tower 3 is set to rise 62-storeys for a height of approximately 210 metres and will also include a further 520 apartments and 321 parking spaces overall.

In total there will be four towers onsite upon completion with in excess of 2,500 apartments included.

Comment

The podium in particular bares strong similarities in terms of facade articulation to the residential towers of Far East Consortium's Elizabeth Quay's project as seen above as well as The fifth at Upper West Side.

The fifth. © Far East Consortium

This treatment to the podium creates and ordered but varied appearance and aids in reducing the scale of a 30m podium into a much more finer and relatable human scale. Additionally it provides passive surveillance to the street, a far cry from the fortress of the former Age building.

The buildings beyond as they appear in the render can be treated as massing envelopes, as one of the principles within Cottee Parker's Master Plan for the site is to ensure clarity between tower forms and architecture so as not to appear as one great mass on the skyline. This was partly addressed at Upper West Side by providing a similar facade treatment of differing colours. Hopefully the language of future towers at West Side Place extends beyond just a variation in colour palette.

To ensure that each building is distinctive in its design, the Master Plan includes the following principle: the architectural treatment should clearly distinguish one tower from another as individual developments.

City of Melbourne planning officer report

The Ritz-Carlton also presents the first high-end, 5-star hotel to be developed in the western end of the city at the threshold between the traditional Hoddle Grid and Docklands. The site is well serviced by trams, buses, Southern Cross Station and the Sky bus shuttle service within an area experiencing significant change. Together with Upper West Side and the Savoy development, West Side Place will transform Spencer Street from the dingy area it was in the 1990's to the new face of Melbourne.

With site works well underway and display suite not far off, construction is anticipated to commence in early 2016.

Site works well underway. © Ryan Seychell

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