City Road scores an altogether questionable design

The construction contract for InterContinental Hotels Group's new Southbank Holiday Inn Express at 35-47 City Road has been awarded to Hickory; it becomes Hickory's fourth Melbourne high-rise project to utilise the construction method. An 18-month construction timeline is planned for the tower which is expected to be complete by September 2019.

Hickory have previously utilised the construction method on another hotel, that being Peppers Kings Square in Perth. This will be their first hotel project in Melbourne and their maiden project for developer Pro-invest Group.

35-47 City Road, Southbank. Image: Hickory Group

In addition to 345 hotel suites, 35-47 City Road will also include approximately 5,000sqm of high grade commercial office space across 3 podium levels. Rising to a height of 23 levels, the project's podium will be a traditional concrete structure, with prefabrication elements trucked in to form the tower component thereafter.

Upon completion, 35-47 City Road will include ground floor retail spaces and public laneway linking to Fawkner Street, plus separate hotel and commercial office lobbies. The Holiday Inn Express lobby on level 7 has been dubbed the “Great Room” and features a landscaped winter garden.

Spanning 17,400 square metres of built form and valued at $82 million, the development is aiming for a 5 star NABERS performance rating.

Pro-Invest Group's intended Little Collins Street tower. Image: Tactical Group

Not too far behind 35-47 City Road in the development timeline is Pro-Invest Group's second Holiday Inn Express planned at 595-599 Little Collins Street.

According to lead consultant Tactical Group "The project includes ground floor retail, separate hotel and commercial office lobbies, a podium that aligns to adjacent heritage assets, a multi-level basement car park, approximately 4,500sqm of high grade commercial office space, and a 4.5 star hotel comprising front and back of house facilities, and an accommodation tower of 313 quality rooms." 


Certain design elements of this tower are a throwback to decades gone by in terms of design sophistication, a throwback which is evident at other Southbank locations as the suburb has evolved over recent decades.

The treatment of the original 1930s City Road facade and its glazed terracotta faience tiles presents as little more than tacking a heritage facade onto a brand new edifice, which in this instance looks cheap and completely swamps any heritage value in retaining the exiting facade. That aside the podium has merit but the tower section is once more cheap and nasty based on every render generated to date.

There is a total lack design nous across the tower element.

35-47 City Road looks to be Sydney firm Reid Campbell's first Melbourne project; the architecture firm "has developed the Australian design for the Holiday Inn Express; which is the fastest growing brand of limited service corporate hotels in the world."

Put simply and succinctly on the Urban Melbourne forum, "The '90s called, they want their tower back."

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Life imitates art imitating life.

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