The Innovation of 1 Collins Street, Melbourne

“An outstanding building of its time and its enduring contribution to the city form and the streetscape of this sensitive precinct.”

Australian Institute of Architects, Victorian Chapter (2011)

Heritage listed 1 Collins Street, Melbourne, represents one of the earliest post-modern office towers developed in the Melbourne city centre, inspiring and influencing many of the larger projects built in the 1991 property boom.

It was amongst the first developments in Melbourne to introduce the concept of preservation of the front portion of heritage buildings, while allowing for new high-rise construction behind. Uncommon to design practice at the time, this approach to innovate, push boundaries and redefine the norm carries through to our design thinking and approach to projects to date.

In a joint venture, the partners at peckvonhartel (then Robert Peck YFHK Pty Ltd) and Denton Corker Marshal won the redevelopment project through an international architectural design competition. The No.1 Collins Street building was completed for $13 million; for a total development cost in the order of $18 million.

At that time there were no projects that had retained elements of historical buildings and incorporated a new build as part of the project. In 1979 and 1980 Robert Peck worked with with the then National Trust to obtain their agreement to the elements of the existing buildings they saw as significant. Giving new life to existing buildings, maximising new build potential and creating a special civic offering at the ground level delivered a successful development option, well received by the National Trust and Melbourne City Council.

The project was successfully completed in 1985. The site contained four historic buildings, one of which was totally restored and the others retained to a depth of 10 metres from Collins Street. Over a number of years it has been recognised in a number of awards, The Victorian Architecture Merit Award for New Commercial Buildings (2011), The Inaugural William WilkinsonWardell Medal for the Best Building of the Last Three Years (2012), and The Enduring Architecture Award from the Australian Institute of Architects, Victorian Chapter (2011).

Pictured above:  peckvonhartel Founding Principal Robert Peck, with the proposed development of 1 Collins Street & 1 Collins Street ‘Inverted Isometic’ by peckvonhartel alumni Elizabeth Dean (1984)

1 Collins Street Melbourne today, showing the intersection of 61 Spring Street and 1 Collins Street Office Tower & Proposed Sketch of the 1 Collins Street development by Barry Marshall (Denton Corker Marshal)