It's Back to the Future for Melbourne Central Tower's lobby upgrade

Laurence DragomirJune 21, 20180 min read

Heavyweight GPT is progressing with plans for a substantial overhaul of the lobby of its Melbourne Central Tower. 

Designed by COX Architecture, the $35m upgrade would re-instate the corner of Elizabeth and Little Lonsdale Streets as one of the primary points of access into the building, removing interventions introduced during upgrades to the centre over a decade ago.

The upgrade will dramatically change the Elizabeth Street streetscape and how people move in and around the site, while also retaining and celebrating the 90's architecture, characterised by the space frame canopy.

It's Back to the Future for Melbourne Central Tower's lobby upgrade
Melbourne Central's reconfigured retail laneway. Image: Scharp

Included as part of the works are the following key elements:

  • The realignment of the entry, and the creation of new retail opportunities and a 'third space' to refresh and reset.
  • Interactive media & LED walls streaming live content and multimedia artwork, as part of the welcome experience for visitors.
  • An amphitheatre designed for collaboration, the exchange of business ideas, or a space to enjoy a morning coffee.
  • A flexible working hub that is envisaged as a dynamic place to meet with connections to the amphitheatre and supplemented by business facilities.
  • Providing an expanded and consolidated premium retail offering catering to new retail operators, in addition to a high-quality lobby barista on-site at the Tower.

The existing 65,000 sqm tower - designed by the late Kisho Kurokawa in association with Bates Smart - was completed in 1991, and currently accommodates major tenants including ME Bank and NBN Co, who account for approximately 40% of the office space.

GPT is also seeking a pre-commitment for an office tower at 300 Lonsdale Street, estimated to be worth around $100m.

The 13-storey development has been designed by Woods Bagot to provide 26,000 sqm NLA of A Grade office space, to be built above the existing Melbourne Central retail centre.

Whether the design as illustrated in the renders below is still current hasn't been confirmed, they at least provide a good indication of the location and breadth of development expected.

It's Back to the Future for Melbourne Central Tower's lobby upgrade
300 Lonsdale Street awaiting a pre-commitment. Images: Point Polaris + Equity DM

Combined, these projects would form the basis of a projected $200m capital works program that GPT are embarking on at its retail and commercial asset.

The lobby upgrade represents a growing trend among owners seeking to refresh existing commercial assets in response to the latest and emerging trends within workplace design and a competitive commercial office market.

Additionally, the new wave of CBD commercial office developments such as 477 Collins Street, 80 Collins Street, Collins Arch and 405 Bourke Street is putting further pressure on existing stock to remain relevant.

Other commercial buildings set for major upgrades to their lobbies and foyers include 100 Queen Street (upon ANZ 's relocation to Docklands next year), 35 Collins Street, 459 Collins Street and 530 Collins Street to name a few.

It's Back to the Future for Melbourne Central Tower's lobby upgrade
35 Collins Street lobby upgrade. Image: Armitage Jones

There is an increasing focus on maximising street presence and retail opportunities, improving the arrival and welcome experience, and providing quality end-of-trip and business facilities.

Works are due to commence on the Melbourne Central Tower lobby upgrade this year with completion slated for 2019.

Lead Image: Scharp

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Cox Architecture
Melbourne Central Tower
Elizabeth Street
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