OHM 2013: 171 Collins Street

After leaving Walter + Eliza Hall Institute last Saturday, I meandered down to 171 Collins Street. Open House Melbourne 2013 was good timing for 171 Collins Street: the development is complete, BHP Billiton is moving into the high-rise section although a number of low-rise floors don't have tenants as yet.

Click the images for a larger version.

Looking up through the atrium to the high-rise area which BHP Billiton will be moving their Global Headquarters to

The tour had quite a substantial wait time - 30 minutes - perhaps this was due to its central location or possibly people were just interested in the spectacular views. More on the views later. The tour kicked off with a brief talk about the the site's heritage features and then progressed to discussing the foyer and atrium. The Atrium (seen above) is mirrored down the walls in an effort to maximise natural light and like 333 Collins Street, will be accessible to the public during business hours.

Beyond the main foyer, the ground floor lift entrances with BHP Billiton's own concierge in the background

After viewing BHP's separate concierge desk (pictured above), we headed up to level 7 for a closer look at one of the vacant office floors. 171 Collins Street has an raised floor system with air conditioning flowing underneath, allowing tenants the added option to move the vents/floor panels and easily position them to fit specific needs. A rundown of the towers common features was given; the most memorable and that which drew the most laughs from the crowd are the bathrooms, decorated in a 'hotel style.'

Vacant level 7

Thereafter the focus shifted toward the facade. As you can see in the below picture, the window treatment includes a white sheen; this is actually a ceramic layer in the triple-glazed facade which reduces the heat load and according to the tour guide, is a feature of 171 Collins Street required by its planning permit. Upon approval the tower was required to have a facade which did not detract from the vista of St. Paul's Cathedral nearby if you were standing under the clocks at Flinders Street gazing in that direction. So the towers facade when viewed from distance doesn't carry the same reflective qualities as other towers facades would. The white/grey hue is meant to mimic Melbourne's grey skies and if you walk closer, the outlook remains decided obscured.

When the tour guide was explaining the facade's features I cast my mind back to the many OH&S induction sessions from the various contract and permanent jobs I've had in the past. I'm sure many reading this will be familiar with the idea when offices workers are at their desks, they are encouraged to look away from their PC screen every 5-10 minutes in order to give your eyes a rest. The most popular suggestion? Look out the nearest window. Maybe I missed something, however given the lack of clear views outwards, looking out a window wouldn't do much!

View southwards over the currently closed Aldephi hotel - the white pattern obscuring the image is the ceramic layer in the triple-glazed facade

To date one level in the low-rise section of 171 Collins has been leased with another 5 available / actively being marketed. A prime location, they won't last long in this all together impressive building.

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