189, Frank Tate Building

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189, Frank Tate Building
Frank Tate Building, South View.jpg
Frank Tate Building, Melbourne, Australia
General information
Status Complete
Type College Academic Building
Architectural style Art Deco
Location Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Design and construction
Architect Percy Edgar Everett

The Frank Tate Building, also known as building 189, is a Student Centre in University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It was originally built in 1939/40 as an extension to the Melbourne Teachers’ College, housed in the '1888 Building' to the south.[1] In 1994 the Melbourne Teachers College relocated and the building became part of the main Melbourne University Campus. It was refurbished as a learning centre by Cox architects in 2010, designed to allow a multitude of different user groups to configure the space according to their individual requirements.[2]


The typical modular building of Frank Tate has a recognizable Art Deco style. The facade is constitution of naked brickworks, proportioning and disposition of windows; whereas the main entrance is a porch that has a white bold architrave and plinth block that framing a door opening. The ground floor is forming as a rectangular module, and the form of the first floor is just as similar as a ‘T’ word. Regarding the facade, both the corners at the front are in a curvy form with application of glass bricks which provide visual obscuration while admitting light. Meanwhile, there is application of awning windows in within of buttresses. Each window rail is bracketed with water table at below to divert rainwater from the building.[3] Due to the environmental context, the contour is sloping downwards to the south, every access in and out of the building reaches to different ground levels. Besides, Frank Tate Building’s height is approximately 12m tall at the front part and the middle to the back is around 13m. Starting from the main entrance at the front which is facing at the south, and there are two access doors at east side of the building that the one at ground floor leads to the Asian Link Centre through a pedestrian ramp, while the other one is an exit discharge of the Learning Environments Special Labs. By the west elevation, there are two doorways exists both at the ground and first floor, but the access at the ground floor is linking to the Charles Pearson Theatre (building next door) by going through underneath the staircase. Besides, another doorway is accessible at the first floor. As the north side, it’s a fire exit of both ground and first floor at the back of the building.[4]

North Elevation of Frank Tate Building, Fire Exit
Pedestrian Ramp, East Elevation

Construction History[edit]

Frank Tate[edit]

  • It was named in honour of Frank Tate, shortly after his death in 1939. He had been the first Director of Education in Victoria (1902 - 1928), and was a tireless reformer, including reform of the training of teachers at Melbourne Teachers' College (also known as the Melbourne Training School), on this site since 1888.[5]

Key Influences and design approach[edit]

  • The architectural style of this two-storey building is the Stream-lined Modernism of that time which has a north wing of curvilinear massing and the application of the flat roof and brickwork piers to place the form into emphasis. Significantly seen interwar cream brick design which shows the confidence in design of the Public Works Department Architect (PWD), Percy Everett.
  • 1968, The Frank Tate Building underwent northern extension under the plaza by PWD(Public Works Department)
  • Refurbishment works in 2008-2010 by COX Architects & Planners involved the opening out of the southern half of the first floor to form a student lounge; a lift was also introduced to the refurbishment in order to allow first floor access aiding the handicap and also students who are too lazy to walk up a flight of stairs. Most of the recent works have created a big change in areas of the building which were already altered significantly. For example, the southern portion of the first floor and those service spaces attributed as lower significance in the Lovell Chen Conservation Management Plan (CMP)of 2005.

Design and construction[edit]

Frank Tate Pavilion

The Ground floor consists of Main Study areas, the Performing Arts Studio, Learning Environments Special Labs, and a collaborative workspace. The First floor consists of Study Areas/Learning Centre, Seminar Rooms, Project Spaces, IT Pit Stop, Learning Atoll (Provides a suite of four chambers which have been created to be complementary zones for students, study spaces, reading rooms, IT zones.), and a Printing Station.

In 2008-2010 refurbishment and alterations were done by COX Architects & Planners / Cox Rayner Architects including the new Frank Tate pavilion.

The Pavilion functions as Melbourne University’s Eastern Precinct Student Centre aiding students in the undergraduate science programs. The timber elements of this pavilion consisted of Solid Spotted Gum externally while the internal elements were composed of Spotted Gum veneer. Joinery of the internal spaces contained timber elements as well as the large timber tables which are located in specification to maintain a feel of continuation and a good flow of energy. Recycled Blackbutt was also used for the exterior seating as another spatial feature. The Frank Tate Buildings Pavilions was entered into several competitions due to its efficiency in timber usage: Outdoor Timber – Stand-alone structures (Sheds, landscapes, decks, etc.)[6]


Awards and Performance firsts[edit]

The Learning Environments Spatial Lab in the Frank Tate Building has been honored with prestigious design award. This learning environment at the University of Melbourne have been honored by the Victorian chapter of the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI), an international organization representing educators, architects and designers involved in creating improved learning environments. The Learning Environments Spatial Lab, in the Frank Tate building, which won the award for ‘An Education Initiative or a Design Solution for an Innovative Program’.[7][8]


  1. ^ Architecture on Campus, Philip Goad and George Tibbits, Melbourne University Press, 2003
  2. ^ "Self-Guided Campus Tour" (PDF). University of Melbourne. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Campus Tour Transcript" (PDF). University of Melbourne. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Frank Tate: Buildings, Study space at UMelb., Parkville". Lostoncampus.com.au. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  5. ^ Frank Tate (educator)
  6. ^ "Frank Tate Pavilion". Australian Timber Design Awards. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Learning Environments Spatial Lab, University of Melbourne". CEFPI. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "University of Melbourne, Learning Environments Spatial Laboratory". CEFPI. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 

External links[edit]