Rialto Towers

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Rialto Towers
Rialto Towers 1.png
Rialto Towers as viewed from the base of the towers
Record height
Tallest in Melbourne from 1986 to 1991[I]
Preceded by Sofitel Hotel at Collins Place
Surpassed by 101 Collins Street
General information
Type Office
Location Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates 37°49′08″S 144°57′30″E / 37.81889°S 144.95833°E / -37.81889; 144.95833Coordinates: 37°49′08″S 144°57′30″E / 37.81889°S 144.95833°E / -37.81889; 144.95833
Construction started 1982
Completed 1986
Architectural 251 m (823 ft)[1]
Antenna spire 270 m (886 ft)
Roof 251 m (823 ft)[1]
Observatory 234 m (768 ft)[1]
Technical details
Floor count 63 (plus 3 underground)
Floor area 84,000 m2 (904,200 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect Gerard de Preu and Partners
Perrott Lyon Mathieson
Main contractor Grollo Australia

The Rialto Towers (often The Rialto) is a skyscraper located at 525 Collins Street, in the western side of the central business district of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is the second-tallest reinforced concrete building and the tallest office building in the Southern Hemisphere, when measured to its roof (several other skyscrapers in Australia are taller if their spires are included, as are some other structures in Australia such as communications masts and observation towers).

The Rialto Towers featured Melbourne's first skyscraper public observation deck which operated between 1994 and 31 December 2009.[2] It was also the location of Melbourne's first Tower running event.


Robbs Building, demolished in 1980 to make way for the Rialto's concrete and glass podium
The old Rialto Building was retained as part of the development.

The site of the Rialto Towers (Flinders Lane, Collins Street, Winfield Square and Robbs Lane) was occupied by several buildings including Robb's Buildings (now demolished), a grand classical styled 5 storey Victorian office building designed by Thomas Watts and Sons[3] (and reputedly the tallest in the Melbourne City Centre[4] in 1885),[5] a 1920s building of the same size, the Rialto Building (1889) designed by William Pitt and the Winfield Building (1890) designed by Charles DEbro & Richard Speight all formed a uniform height limited streetscape along Collins Street and around the corner of King Street.

During the 1970s, the large derelict site was owned by the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia and it was around 1979 when the first development proposal was prepared and submitted to the Melbourne City Council.

Little progress was made until 1980 when the site was acquired by Grollo Australia.[6] Despite the structural integrity of Robb's buildings and objections by the National Trust of Victoria, Grocon successfully argued that the retention of Robb's Buildings would spoil the effect of the proposed building and that as it would not integrate well with the new structure and that the Rialto should have its own modern concrete and glass podium. During the application process Rialto and Windfield buildings were added to heritage registers and a 10 metres frontage and side facades including Victorian roofscape and turrets and small access laneway were retained to be integrated into the development.


Rialto Towers at night.

Robb's buildings were subsequently demolished opening the way for construction to begin on the Rialto.

Designed by architects Gerard de Preu and Partners in association with Perrott Lyon Mathieson, the building was built between 1982 and 1986, opening in October 1986, and takes its name from the much older Rialto Building next door. The massive glass curtain wall façade of reinforced blue tinted mirrored glass is its central feature and changes colour during the day, ranging from a trademark dark blue to a brilliant gold during sunset.

It is 251 m (824 ft) high, with 63 floors and 3 basement floors. It comprises two conjoined towers, the shorter North Tower being 185 m high with 43 floors. In total, there are 84,000 m² of office space.

Early tenants moved into the lower floors while the upper floors were still under construction in 1984.

Rialto Run-up[edit]

Inspired by the popular Empire State Building Run-Up, a stair race up the 242 metre, 1222-1254 step race to the 53rd floor of the Rialto building was first run in the late 1980s and became an annual event with both men's and women's divisions known as the Rialto Run-up. Previous winners include Robin Rishworth (1989,1990); Geoff Case (1991). The winner was awarded with a trip to New York City to compete in the Empire State Building race. The event was run until 2005 and competitors had to go up 1254 steps.[7]

Observation Deck[edit]

The Melbourne Observation Deck opened to the public on 19 July 1994 and is on the 55th floor of the South Tower, at 234 m. Views of up to 60 km can be had on a clear day. The floor is serviced by two express passenger lifts. However, on 31 December 2009, the observation deck closed to become a restaurant.[8]

Panoramic view from the Rialto at night showing the Melbourne city centre and Southbank illuminated
A ~180 degree panoramic image of Melbourne's Hoddle Grid (CBD) and Southbank on the right side, as viewed from the Rialto Observation Deck


Rialto Towers dominating Melbourne's western skyline

In total there are 36 passenger lifts, 95 km of lift cables, 706 lift door openings and 1,450 staircase steps. The outer surface of the building has 13,000 windows. When completed in 1986, The Rialto surpassed Sydney's MLC Centre to become Australia's tallest building at 251 meters. It was the tallest for five years until being surpassed by 101 Collins Street in 1991. It remained the tallest to roof until the construction of Eureka Tower in 2006. It is currently the seventh tallest building in Australia and third tallest to roof after the Eureka and the Pearl Tower.

List of tallest buildings in Australia
Next shorter
Infinity Tower
Next taller
Bourke Place
Heights are to highest architectural element.
List of tallest buildings in Melbourne
Next Shortest
Melbourne Central
Next Tallest
Bourke Place
Heights are to highest architectural element.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Emporis - Rialto Towers
  2. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2009/10/23/2722902.htm
  3. ^ Robb's buildings, corner of Collins and King Streets Melbourne [picture] by
  4. ^ Robbs was the tallest in the Hoddle Grid, however it was not the tallest in the metropolitan area
  5. ^ Robb, John (1834 - 1896) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  6. ^ "Building Construction". pp. (Building Profile → Features → Construction). Retrieved 17 January 2007. 
  7. ^ Cool Running website Rialto Run-Up 2005 Run 1254 stairs to the top! Retrieved 8 April 2015
  8. ^ Dobbin, Marika (8 October 2009). "End in view for Rialto's top deck". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Rialto Towers at Wikimedia Commons