Empire Melbourne tops out, but is it Melbourne's Empire rose?

Another of the squadron of tall residential towers dotting the CBD's northern expanses has topped out. Empire Melbourne is a predominantly precast monolith highlighted by vertical gold fins set at different angles.

Head contractor Probuild last week took Empire Melbourne to its high point, topping out the tower with the final level completed. The rapid work of Caelli in erecting the concrete structure coupled with the Probuild Construction Systems program has allowed the 62-storey tower to reach structural completion well ahead of schedule.

Empire Melbourne now stands on the south-east corner of A'Beckett and Elizabeth Streets, directly opposite MY80, which was the first collaboration between Probuild, Malaysian-based developer Mammoth Empire, PDS Group and architecture firm Hayball.

Combined, MY80 and Empire Melbourne have added 968 apartments to the intersection.

Gold the order of the day, as seen from A'Beckett Street

Delivered under a design and construct contract, Probuild's accelerated delivery of Empire Melbourne has the project on course to be delivered months ahead of its intended completion.

The innovation at Empire has accelerated usual fitout timelines achieved with traditional building techniques. By implementing Probuild Construction Systems we’ve been able to make the most of every opportunity and exceed our client’s expectations.

I’m extremely proud of our people working at Empire. At Probuild we hire the industry’s best and they’ve delivered the best for our client, Mammoth Empire.

Probuild Managing Director Luke Stambolis

We’re delighted to have reached this milestone and thank our partners, particularly Probuild, for getting us to this stage 3 months ahead of schedule. Mammoth and PDS Group have partnered successfully in the past, with MY80 (across the road) finishing in 2014 and we look forward to Empire receiving its first residents later this year.

Mammoth and PDS Group wish to thank our partners for their innovation and hard work to date.

CEO of PDS Group, Andrew Fortey

348 apartments with Empire Melbourne along with all common areas are scheduled to be handed over on 31 July 2017. Thereafter settlements will take place, with the balance of apartments nominated for a September 2017 handover; well in advance of the initially nominated completion date of December 2017.

In addition to the 487 apartments in total, Empire Melbourne also includes 2 retail spaces, 8 motorbike and 173 bicycle spaces. Project amenities include a gym, yoga/multi-purpose room, pool, sauna, lounge and dining spaces.

Empire Melbourne. Image: Ryan Seychell

Project specifics aside, Empire Melbourne joins a growing cast of towers along Elizabeth Street's eastern flank that present as vertical 'walls' from street level, with only token podiums and/or setbacks.

A product of previous planning laws, the flourish of tall towers in this stretch defined by their sheer vertical form has markedly changed the Elizabeth Street streetscape. Five of six substantial residential towers facing Elizabeth Street have either been or are close to completion.

In discussion with one of Melbourne's leading architects last week, comment was passed on this new stretch of towers along Elizabeth Street; "What will we make of these towers in 20 years time? What sort of legacy will they leave?"

9 comments

3000's picture

the whole Northern cluster will be remembered as the Wild West Era of planning. Where the only numbers that mattered was height and project yield.
As these projects begin to finish and settlement begins I am hearing that many of them are just not good outcomes.
Of course, it's all done and dusted so no point complaining. But, we should look back on these towers as an example of what should not be done.
Yes, we have some nice, tall towers with pretty glass but do they serve Melbourne well?
Depends on how you look at it, I guess.

Also, Empire has turned out to be quite the eyesore.

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George D's picture

This area will look a lot better when City of Melbourne finally pedestrianise Elizabeth St.

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tiankd74's picture

Not a good outcome for the City of Melbourne!

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Bilby's picture

It's hilarious that planners and architects are even discussing whether this might have been a good idea or not! It just goes to show how out of the loop Australia really is in 21st century urbanism. Every other world city of note has long ago abandoned this sort of free-for-all vision of development - in most cases during the previous century. And yet we still ask the question, "What will we make of these towers in 20 years' time?".

Why not look around the world now and ask the question - what have other cities made of their own legacies of skyscraper-tall street walls with no podiums? I hardly think we'd need to wait 20 years for that research to come in!

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Laurence Dragomir's picture

And these "other world cities of note" are?

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3000's picture

Well, Sydney, for one. They have mandatory sizes for apartments that have served them well so far; ridiculous housing prices aside.

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Laurence Dragomir's picture

Apartment sizes aren't the issue and not what Bilby was getting at (unless i'm mistaken) plenty of "world cities of note" don't have mandatory apartment sizes.

The Better Apartment Design Standards are a good start but the great fallacy is the belief that increasing apartment sizes will immediately improve apartment design - there are plenty of other factors and fortunately BADS recognises this.

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3000's picture

I actually saw bigger and better designed apartments in Japan. Hell, even the small Tokyo ones I stayed in had better design than many of the stuff being built throughout most of the Melbourne CBD.
Japan are experts at maximising space where it is a premium so maybe we need the Japanese to build some stock and show the Chinese and Aussies how to really do it properly.

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George D's picture

BADS are good, and for many years of my life I would have (and did, some years) trade down to a small apartment with good natural light.

The problem that we have is that there's little concerted effort at placemaking, and we're getting suboptimal results.

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