Rialto Towers

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Rialto
Rialto Towers in May 2017, edit.png
Rialto as viewed from the base of the towers, in May 2017
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
Height
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 55 (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

Rialto (often The Rialto, or Rialto Towers) 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 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.

Background[edit]

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 Rialto (Flinders Lane, Collins Street, Winfield Square and Robbs Lane) was occupied by several buildings including numerous small warehouses on Flinders Lane, Robb's Buildings (now demolished, named for the owner, railway builder John Robb), a grand classical styled 5 storey Victorian office building designed by Thomas Watts and Sons[3] in 1885, and one of the largest in the city at the time[4] two other interwar buildings on Collins Street, the Rialto Building (1889) designed by William Pitt and the Winfield Building (1890) designed by Charles DEbro & Richard Speight, all part of an historic streetscape along Collins Street running up to the Olderfleet Building to the east.

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 in a joint venture with St Martin’s Properties.[5] Though a campaign was run by the National Trust of Victoria against the demolition of Robb's Building, Grocon successfully argued that it stood in the way of its major twin-tower proposal. During the application process the Rialto and Windfield buildings were added to the Victorian Heritage Register, and a different future was determined for them. This involved the creation of a hotel utilising the whole of the long rear wing of the Rialto Building, the replacement of the rear wing of the Winfield Building, and the creation of an atrium between.

Construction[edit]

Rialto 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 55 floors[6] 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. In 2010, the fine dining restaurant, Vue de monde, and associated cocktail bar, Lui Bar, commenced operations on Level 55.[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

Statistics[edit]

Rialto dominating Melbourne's western skyline

Rialto consists of two interconnected towers, North and South, with rooftop floors at Level 41 and Level 58 respectively. 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. There are five basement levels of car park available for occupiers and casual users. When completed in 1986, The Rialto surpassed Sydney's MLC Centre to become Australia's tallest building at 251 metres. 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
249m
Next taller
Bourke Place
254m
Heights are to highest architectural element.
List of tallest buildings in Melbourne
Next Shortest
Melbourne Central
246m
Next Tallest
Bourke Place
254m
Heights are to highest architectural element.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Rialto Towers at Wikimedia Commons