Eureka Tower may have stolen the limelight a few years ago yet for many Rialto Towers at 525 Collins Street is still the quintessential building that's instantly associated with Melbourne. A goliath of its day, the structure jointly designed by Gerard de Preu & Partners plus Perrott Lyon Mathieson was officially opened during October 1986 and for the most has remained unchanged there after. Although owner Grollo Group had at varying times over the proceeding years sought to buy adjoining properties fronting King Street to facilitate further expansion, only recently have signs of redevelopment emerged.
First came the render below carried by F2 Architecture on their website. Having a history of work for Grollo Group's development and construction arm Equiset, including 737 Bourke Street Docklands, the well articulated, interactive and open design seen below would have been an impressive fit within the Collins Street vista.
Evidently not, as an Australian Financial Review (AFR) article published 6th June 2013 detailed the proposed development. Designed by Woods Bagot Architects, the $45 million dollar expansion would have delivered a six level forecourt building consisting 1,500sqm of retail space and an additional 5,000sqm of office space boosting total office space to an impressive 89,000sqm.
Lodged with Melbourne City Council late May, the planning application is now at a referral stage. Interestingly the AFR article states " It is in a planning zone which does not require a permit and the design will not be advertised." Addresses covered by the application include 487-535 Collins Street and 68-70 King Street.
Publically advertised or not Equiset have added an image of the Rialto redevelopment within their planning application for 464 Collins Street which lies diagonally opposite, both of which are designed by respected architecture firm Bates Smart.
Should this be the new and actual expansion one can't help but feel a little underwhelmed by the design that seemingly breaks a glazed facade with either precast concrete panels or aluminium cladding. Bates Smart commercial projects are always aesthetically pleasing yet generally don't set the world on fire in terms of making a design statement or wow factor for lack of a better term.
Speaking as a lover of great design above all else, here's hoping the final, detailed renders when released shows Rialto Towers impending redevelopment in the best possible light given the development will occupy the prime Collins Street and King Street corner. Rialto is an imperious Melbourne building, it's only fitting any redevelopment is of an equal quality.