In the heart of Melbourne’s legal district, the corner of William and Little Lonsdale Street has been the site of a traditional Australian pub since 1925. Taking advantage of a city corner with a rare vertical void, De Group have commissioned WMK to design a commercial tower to ascend 17 levels above the two-story heritage overlaid red brick structure.
Comprising of three distinct parts, this project is grounded in a heritage foundation which provides the base for a contemporary vertical gesture in a city embracing development.
The Metropolitan Hotel will be rejuvenated, decades of paint removed, and façade alternations returned to the original design intent as shown in historical drawings from 1925 and 1937. Above this structure a curvilinear recessed form wrapped in glass with an undulating setback of 3 to 5 meters forms a ‘waist’, the connection between the old and the new.
This nexus point provides The Metropolitan Hotel an opportunity to grasp one of Melbourne’s most iconic and sort after moments – the roof top bar.
Rising above, the tower takes a minimalist form, a refined gesture complimentary to the modern city. Modest floorplates of 250m2 are TARDIS like – the 17 levels are wrapped in a structural exoskeleton and the core is aligned to the southern edge, which not only enhances the structural integrity of the building but allows for the maximization of internal space.
Overcoming a VCAT challenge, WMK’s design was endorsed and a permit granted, finding that integrating the ‘waist’ as the transitional element to the building above retained the heritage asset below, and the deliberate minimalism of the vertical gesture did not detract from the character at street level.
VCAT noted that utilising our heritage buildings as podiums is a distinct ‘Melbourne solution to heritage’.
This William Street project sees WMK preserving the city’s past while embracing its future through quality and considered design.