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Former BHP House

Peter Maltezos's picture

Text from Melbourne Architecture

Former BHP House

140 William Street

1967-72 Yuncken Freeman


Intended to promote the use of steel in building construction and to set new national standards for the height of a steel-framed building, the former BHP House was also claimed to be the first office building in Australia to use a ‘total energy concept’ –the generation of its own electricity using BHP natural gas. Yuncken Freeman sought advanced technological advice from structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), Chicago. Khan’s innovative idea of the high-rise tower was the principle of a giant stiff structural tube where the tower became a pure cantilever. Back in Melbourne, under the direction of Barry Patten, the design of the steel structural sheath was refined to a strikingly simple concept comprising four basic elements: a central steel-framed core; a stiff steel and glass façade; steel trusses to link the core to the façade; and a steel deck flooring system. With no interior columns, all structural loads were carried down by an outer skin of steel and a central services core rising the full height of the building. The façade was a 10mm thick skin of welded steel over 50mm of concrete insulation fire protecting and housing the main steel frame. This steel skin was erected before the placement of the concrete and in effect constituted permanent formwork. Yuncken Freeman experimented with tower’s proposed finishes with the construction of their own offices at 411-415 King Street, Melbourne (1970), a black Miesian building that recalled the Bacardi Building, Mexico City (1957-61).


My own photos.


Sculpture at ground level.

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Peter Maltezos's picture

I collect, therefore I am.

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Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.


Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.