3L Alliance pushes for twin 246 metre towers at 350 Queen Street

Further light can now be shed on the proposed 'Queens Place' development which is expected to eventually consume a sizeable and underutilised CBD corner site. Developer 3L Alliance has found a new home within the existing 350 Queen Street office complex onsite, that will eventually be flanked by dual high-rise residential towers.

With a nominal value of $750 million, the project will see an expansive five level podium topped with two towers terminating at 246 metres in height. Having only purchased the site during late 2014, 3L Alliance instated Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis as joint project architects following a limited design competition.

The sheer size of the development will likely see the residential towers delivered over two stages, with the current planning application seeking approval for Towers 1 and 2, with Tower 2's building envelope subject to further detailed development plans which will be provided by the development team for assessment at a future point.

Aviation exclusion zones has seen a separate Stage 1 plan for a 206 metre tower included, although for all intents and purposes the planning application focuses almost exclusively upon the dual 246 metre design.

350 Queen Street application summary

350 Queen Street aspects. Image courtesy COX & FKA
  • Planning application lodged April 2015
  • Site area: 7,295sqm with existing 20L office complex retained, other structures to be demolished
  • Application seeks full approval for Stage 1 and envelope approval for Stage 2
  • Dual 79 level residential towers at 246.23 metres envisaged, with secondary Stage1 design of 206 metres included (non-OLS incursion)
  • Total GFA sought: 176,217sqm
  • 554 car parking & 603 bicycle spaces (154 bay commercial car park included within basement)
  • 1,925sqm of retail space and 120-space child care facility
  • Strata offices suites between 174sqm and 647sqm
  • Stage 1 apartment total: 864
  • Amenities: Pools/spas, gym, saunas, home theatre, kitchen/lounge, yoga studio, karaoke area

COX and FK on 350 Queen Street

‘Queens Place’ is a compelling opportunity to re-engage the site at 350 Queen St into the precinct. Using a finer grain of public connections and amenity paired with taller elements of urbane city proportions; the site is redefined to offer Melbourne’s CBD an activated, connected and enlivened precinct.

The design process has given rise to a concept that enriches the ground plane with new connections and an enhanced public realm within the Queen Victoria Market Precinct. In the podium, a variety of uses such as retail, childcare and commercial suites provide activation to the critical ‘first 25m’.

Atop the podium are positioned two towers, shaped and sculpted by design drivers from within and around the site. They step as they ascend, forming a dynamic pairing on Melbourne’s continuously evolving skyline. At both the ground plane and in the sky, this development has real potential to enliven and enrich the liveability and character of Melbourne’s CBD.

Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis, architectural report

Overs and unders: OLS / PANS-OPS a consideration

OLS Diagram. Image courtesy COX & FKA

Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) exclusion zones have been taken into account within the 350 Queen Street planning documents. OLS is essentially a series of height limits for objects surrounding a particular aerodrome, with Essendon Airport the major consideration.

As the preferred 246 metre outcome would breach the OLS ceiling of 228.5 metres, an alternative scheme of 206 metres has been included within the planning documents for comparisons sake (and for approval should the 246 metre version fail). While various CBD towers already penetrate the OLS ceiling, including the nearby Aurora Melbourne Central, they do not penetrate the more rigid PAN-OPS ceiling.

350 Queen Street is no exception in this regard with the development team citing constructability and PAN-OPS limitations as halting their advance skyward.

The first 25

Artist's impression from Queen and A'Beckett. Image courtesy COX & FKA

Numerous references have been made to 'The first 25 metres' within the planning documents, alluding to the weight placed upon creating a dynamic podium structure.

The importance of the first 25m to the human experience at ground level and contribution to the City’s fabric is crucial. Queens Place makes a clear separation between tower and podium, providing a highly detailed vibrant base and a calm simple tower above.

Rather than treat the public space as the space left over from the development, the design team approached the task from the opposite direction, designing the public realm first responding to existing conditions, through site connections and solar access and then placed the buildings around this space.

Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis, architectural report

The result is a highly articulated podium both externally and internally, with a large covered central plaza included at the heart of the project. Transparent glazing wraps ground level frontages while site entry points are discerned with distinctive bamboo plantings which supplements hanging greenery over the podium structure.

The curved podium is veiled with operable, contoured timber louvres which respond to prevailing weather conditions.

Two towers

Both Melbourne City Council and the The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have been consulted with regard to the size and nature of the proposed development. Based upon the joint discussions a twin tower outcome was considered most appropriate for 350 Queen Street.

Setbacks and tower separation has been considered, with a distance of between 15 and 33 metres representing the void between both buildings while a boundary setback of at least 4.5 metres are present above the podium.

The towers present in a clean and simple form, and this has been continued over the plant levels atop each structure. Described as a 'visual flourish' within the architecture report, the crown of each tower has been integrated into the tower form and will be glazed in bronze finishes thus providing a focal point from many surrounding angles.

350 Queen Street development team

  • Developer: 3L Alliance Pty Ltd
  • Architecture, Urban Context Report: Cox Architects and Fender Katsalidis Architects
  • Planning: Urbis
  • Project Manager: Gallagher Jeffs
  • Aviation Report: Airport Consultancy Group Pty Ltd
  • Traffic Engineering: GTA Consultants
  • Landscaping: Rush\Wright Associates
  • Wind Assessment: Mel Consultants
  • Heritage Assessment: prepared by Lovell Chen
  • Sustainability, Lifts and Services: Aurecon
  • Waste Management Plan: Leigh Design
  • Geotechnical Report: Golder Associates
  • Building Surveyor: McKenzie Group
  • Structural Report: WSP Group
  • Land Surveyor: Bosco Johnson


Aussie Steve's picture

This is certainly and under utelized CBD site that was only recently (last 10 or so years) filled in at ground level with a low rise podium. The proposed podium looks great and will add some great contemporary architecture to this part of town which lacks this but has many historic, lowrise buildings.

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Bilby's picture

This part of Melbourne lacks great contemporary architecture, yes. But does it have an abundance of low rise heritage? I would say it has some good examples of now rare low-rise heritage buildings - the sort of buildings being knocked over all over Melbourne in the last few years. Go for a 'walk' in this area on google street view - how many "historic low rise buildings" do you see?

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Rohan Storey's picture

Poor little Welsh Church, will be totally surrounded by towers - the render doesnt show the EQ tower, going to be a rather crowded environment.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Bumping this up in light of the interim controls now in place. Queens Place was lodged before the interim controls took effect, however it's useful to look back at it as its stats are somewhat uncannily (on purpose? :)) "applicable" to the new controls.

Site area: 7,295 square metres.
GFA sought: 176,217 square metres

[that's near enough to 24:1]

- presence of an alternative to fit "under" the OLS height limit should it be required. Building separation between 15 and 33 metres (which would lower the plot ratio)

The only point of contention I can see is the podium setbacks might be an issue if this were lodged today

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Actually for a 246m high building the setbacks from the side boundaries would have to be 12.3m and the setbacks from the street frontages 5m.

Also the floor area calculation would include the existing office building on the site which would have a gross floor area of around 19,000 square metres.

The tower fronting Latrobe would have to be reduced in height by 24 levels to around 170m to meet the Plot Ratio requirements and to allow for a 8.5m setback from the side boundary.

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johnproctor's picture

you'd have to increase the setback which will reduce the floor area on each floor and may not require such a big drop in height.

at a high level this appears to be one issue with the new controls. I think generally this was a proposal that was doing a good job of meeting the spirit of the new rules while still achieving a high density of development.

instead the new rules arbitrarily rule this out.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

But then the tower would end up too thin, or they would have to put the lift core on one side of the building which is also a worse outcome.

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johnproctor's picture

yeah but good design just requires setbacks and height limits apparently.

the rules to me just lead to more dull boxy towers. If I owned the old AXA/Suncorp site on Collins/Market/William I'd just build to the boundary with a 40m podium then do 5m setbacks from each boundary and build the next box above that up to the height of 24:1 plot ratio (assuming it doesn't hit the Yarra overshadowing!). Relevance to this site is the permuations we are discussing on dropping height or dropping bulk lead to a full redesign based on maximised floorplate not necessarily good design.

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