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MELBOURNE’S UGLIEST BUILDINGS

Melbourne’s Ugliest Buildings: An extract from THE AGE (MELBOURNE) MAGAZINE – MAY 2012

Which are Melbourne’s best buildings and which are its ugliest? Susannah Walker asked architects all over the city to cast their votes …Of all the buildings in Melbourne, which ones are the best? And which are the worst? We put these questions to 140 architects, from swish city firms to lone operators in the ‘burbs. Our survey, conducted by phone and email, asked them to tell us their three favourite Melbourne buildings, and the three they like the least, and why.

Then we held our breath. Would the notoriously competitive architecture fraternity be willing to publicly celebrate its own, and openly criticise in equal measure? As one architect admitted, “It’s a very difficult task … the risk of offending other architects or building designers is a worry.”

In the end, with a bit of badgering, we received responses from architects at 35 firms. Not bad, we thought. But what surprised us was how passionately many of those architects responded. They waxed lyrical about the buildings they love – timeless, spellbinding, profound and brilliant were among the words used – and, equally, didn’t hold back about those they loathe (soulless, nasty, tacky and confused were among the descriptions). “Simply brainless,” said Richard Kerr of a South Yarra apartment building, while his take on a Cremorne office block was: “(This is) what happens when a dog throws up over the designer’s paper and they simply print it for construction!” Maggie Edmond told us she averts her eyes whenever she passes the “silly beyond belief” Pixel building (which, incidentally, won both best and worst building votes).

But when these guys love a building, boy, do they love it. Jane Cameron thought the former BHP House was stunning: “It is classical modernism at its best”, while Debbie Ryan said of the Arts Centre complex: “This collection of buildings … says everything about composition; restraint and exuberance in perfect balance.”

A number of respondents gave the topic considerable thought. Maria Danos held a brainstorming session with her colleagues at MA Architects, while Rachel Nolan and the team at Kennedy Nolan whittled down a long line of contenders for their “worst” list during the weekly office lunch. “It made for quite an entertaining conversation,” she said. Mark van den Enden also consulted his colleagues, who discussed their selection criteria, concluding: “Perhaps the best, and indeed the worst, should be judged in terms of both energy consumption and design aesthetics.”

David Anderson pondered how to reduce the number of buildings on his “best” list, in the end limiting himself to the CBD and surrounds: “An interesting topic and one that required much thought.”

From the responses we received, we compiled two lists: one of the 10 “best” buildings and another of the 10 voted “worst”. We arrived at these by allocating three points to a building that an architect or firm had named first on their list, then two points for second place, and one point for third. It was a close race to the top of the “best” list, with Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street, South Yarra, house nudging out the Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre and the former BHP House (which tied for second place) by one vote.

It was a different story with the “worst” list, with a wide margin between the first placegetter – the Melbourne Aquarium (36 votes) – and second, a student housing block in Carlton (16 votes). In fact, the aquarium got 19 more votes than any other building in our survey. One respondent declared it one of the world’s ugliest buildings, adding: “There are so many ideas at play that it seems like a committee drafted the design over a glass or two of dirty river water.” The aquarium, completed in 2000 by architects Peddle Thorp, has attracted criticism before, most recently in The Sunday Age when Simon Knott, director of BKK Architects, commented: “It’s a shit building, a really awful building in a prominent position.”

In 2004, Peter Brook, design director of Peddle Thorp Melbourne, hit back at the building’s critics in The Age. It was probably the most complicated building Peddle Thorp had ever tackled he said, and given the site’s constraints, a major design and engineering feat. “The significance of the Melbourne Aquarium is not then as an arbitrary work of art but as an innovative piece of design on many levels. That is what architecture should be about.” Without question, the building was iconic, “not because of its appearance but because it is a place which works and which people enjoy using. That is also surely the prime purpose of great architecture.”

Perhaps beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. As one architect said of our survey: “There will no doubt be as many opinions as there are buildings.”

yoursayWhich Melbourne buildings get your votes for best and worst? Email us at theagemelbournemagazine.com.au

TOP 10 BUILDINGS

01 Votes: 17

Robin Boyd house

290 Walsh Street, South Yarra (1958)

The family home of architect Robin Boyd is regarded as one of his finest domestic works. Boyd designed it while he was writing The Australian Ugliness, and it is a critique of suburban housing at the time: its living areas are open plan, arranged around a central courtyard that is sheltered from prevailing southerly and northerly winds (no traditional front and back yards and unused side bits of land here). The Robin Boyd Foundation bought the house from the Boyds in 2005, and it has kept the original furniture and paintings. “It’s a sophisticated design for an Australian house in a time of rampant brick veneer,” said Emilio Fuscaldo and Imogen Pullar of Nest Architects.

02 Votes: 16

Former BHP House

140 William Street, city (1972)

BHP’s new headquarters of glass and steel was 41 storeys, making it Australia’s tallest building when it was finished. The design team was led by Barry Patten, whose work includes the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The National Trust now regards BHP House as an “extremely refined and successful” example of a modernist building where you can see the structure of the steel trusses on the facade. Apart from its sculptural appearance, it is heritage listed for elements such as the innovative way the steel and concrete were used, allowing for an interior without columns. “It’s elegant and cool – could have been built last year,” said Damian Williams from Element Architects.

02 Votes: 16

Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre

St Kilda Road, city (2003)

The $7-million visitor centre, under the grassy mound on which the 1934 Shrine rests, scooped several awards for architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall, including the Royal Australian Institute of Architect’s 2004 best project. The walls of its entry courtyard symbolise trench shutters used in war. “Try and walk into the ochre-stained walled entry courtyard and not be moved,” said Richard Kerr of Richard Kerr Architecture. “A brilliant and respectful addition to one of our city’s most sacred places,” said Corbett Lyon, a director of Lyons.

04 Votes: 12

National Gallery of Victoria

St Kilda Road, city (1968)

Sir Roy Grounds was knighted and awarded the RAIA gold medal for his imposing bluestone-clad design. The gallery was renovated and reopened in 2003 with, among other changes, two of its courtyards covered over. Although she thought it had been “tampered” with, Jane Cameron at Jane Cameron Architects said: “Good architecture always transcends time. The NGV is certainly an example of this.”

05 Votes: 10

Federation Square

Flinders Street, city (2002)

With its facades of sandstone, zinc and glass, the buildings in Melbourne’s new civic meeting place caused a stir all the way to its opening, six years after premier Jeff Kennett had launched a competition for its design. London-based Lab Architecture Studio was the pick of 177 entrants and worked with Melbourne firm Bates Smart. “They really got it right with the textures and materials and the lighting,” said Maria Danos from

MA Architects. The square itself is paved with half a million sandstone cobblestones, including one containing a prehistoric oyster shell.

06 Votes: 9

Orica House

1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne (1958)

This 20-storey office block was once well-known for the panes that kept shattering on its west facade, due to nickel salt impurities in the Belgian glass. Today, the building’s glazed glass curtain walls are a symbol of its time – the prosperous, progressive post-war years. Said Kate Frear, principal architect at Woods Bagot: “Its modernist facade has endured.” Designed by Bates Smart McCutcheon, it is one of the few post-war office buildings on the Victorian Heritage Register.

07 Votes: 7

ACCA

111 Sturt Street, Southbank (2002)

The rusty steel facade of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, and the sharply contrasting metal and glass foyer within, prompted gushing among the architects we polled. “Fantastic use of materials and form,” said Victoria Hamer, while Steve Rose proclaimed it “a dramatic, stunning, yet simple building that will remain timeless”. ACCA’s design, by Wood Marsh, is based on the European model of the “kunsthalle,” or exhibition hall, and is essentially a shell housing four gallery spaces that open out from the foyer.

08 Votes: 6

Monaco House

22 Ridgway Place, city (2008)

Built for the Consulate of Monaco on an appropriately postage stamp-sized block in one of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, this compact four-storey building has a striking folded and crumpled facade. Designed by McBride Charles Ryan, Corbett Lyon described it as a little gem of a building: “It’s a formal tour de force, sitting confidently on its small site and reflecting the lost fine grain of our city’s laneways.” Monaco House was shortlisted in the top 12 civic buildings in the World Architecture Festival awards.

08 Votes: 6

Council House 2

218 Little Collins Street, city (2006)

One of the world’s greenest buildings, the City of Melbourne’s eco-office block consumes only 15 per cent of the energy of a regular building and about 30 per cent of the water. CH2, designed by Mick Pearce and Design Inc, is an example of bio-mimicry architecture, where a building uses sustainable technology copied from the natural world (the cooling and heating systems were inspired by termite nests). The first to get six stars for environmental design from the Green Building Council of Australia, its features include a facade of solar-powered sun-tracking louvres.

}10 Votes: 5.5

Heide II

7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen (1968)

This single-level home, designed by David McGlashan and Neil Everist for John and Sunday Reed’s Heidelberg artists’ retreat, features a sequence of rooms and courtyards that showcase a tranquil garden setting. Limestone and white terrazzo provided a neutral background for the Reeds’ art collection. Adrian Light, director of ONE20 Group Architects, said it was one of Australia’s better modernist buildings. “I love the way the spaces interlock with each other.””Councils can change the environmental agenda for buildings in Melbourne.”

Mark van den Enden on Council House 2I Robin Boyd house

The home of the modernist architect is one of his finest works.A Council House 2

The City of Melbourne’s office block is one of the world’s greenest.A Heide II Interlocking walls create a sequence of rooms and courtyards showcasing the garden.”This project has been an important part of the revitalisation of the CBD that has occurred over the past 10 years.”

Vanessa Bird on Federation Square

A Federation Square The textures and materials are spot on in the city’s meeting place.”A small building that makes a big statement about Melbourne architecture and the excitement of finding a hidden gem.”

Juliet Moore on Monaco House

I Former BHP House Elegant and innovative modernism.”A graceful building with inherent solidity, representing the importance of art in history and contemporary times.” Richard Barrack on the NGVA Monaco House A compact four-storey building

in one of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, with a striking crumpled and folded facade.A National Gallery of Victoria

The imposing bluestone-clad design brought accolades for Sir Roy Grounds.”Architecture at its most unexpected but resolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Try and walk into the ochre-stained walled entry courtyard and not be moved.” Richard Kerr on the Shrine’s Visitor Centre

“This building is stunning. It is the Audrey Hepburn of architecture.”

Jane Cameron onthe former BHP HouseI Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre

Its entry courtyard symbolise trench shutters used in war. I Orica House

An enduring symbol of post-war prosperity.”I love it for its potent image of the future.”

Maggie Edmond on the Australian Centre for Contemporary ArtI ACCA

Designed like a European exhibition hall.A Melbourne Aquarium Winner of the “ugliest” building gong.A RMIT Building 8 The whimsical design once won a major architecture award.A Student housing Students call it the “rainbow building”.A ANZ World Headquarters Mock period style on Collins Street.”Strangely, two buildings in one, composed of false bay windows and balustrades, attempting a French ambience but achieving a Dallas hybridity.”

Norman Day on the Westin HotelA Former DFO building A lost chance to connect Docklands with the CBD?A Crown Entertainment Complex

Blingy buildings.

A Westin Hotel

Two buildings in one that add little to the city square.A South Yarra Square

An unattractive, brown apartment block. A Apartment building

An unresolved design in Brunswick East.A Hisense Arena Awkward in its Melbourne Park setting.

BOTTOM 10 BUILDINGS

01 Votes: 36

Melbourne Aquarium

Flinders Street, cnr King Street (2000)

Designed to resemble a ship moored to the river, the aquarium attracted more criticism than any other building in our survey. Corbett Lyon was among those who claimed it was “Melbourne’s worst building”, adding that “a tacky pastiche of portholes, masts, sails, blue waves and a neon fish sign makes it look like an overblown seafood restaurant”. The building’s architects, Peddle Thorp, told The Age in 2004 that it was “an innovative piece of design on many levels”.

02 Votes: 16

Student housing

522 Swanston Street, Carlton (2004)

Students call it the “rainbow building” but survey respondents were less kind when describing this gelati-hued apartment block. One architect said it was “student housing that looks more like a remand centre or self-storage facility”. Debbie Ryan, a principal of McBride Charles Ryan, added: “The clip on balconies are useless.”

03 Votes: 8

RMIT Building 8

360 Swanston Street, city (1992)

Initially controversial because it broke key modernist taboos, it went on to win the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design, with the judges describing it as “an outstanding and confronting building which evokes strong emotions and lasting impressions …” Said Victoria Hamer of Victoria Hamer Architects: “It has dated badly.”

03 Votes: 8

ANZ World Headquarters

100 Queen Street, city (1993)

This 37-floor postmodern office tower is linked with historic buildings on the same site by a series of atriums and internal chambers. It is an uneasy relationship, said David Anderson of David Anderson Architecture: “Mock period style in residential architecture is lazy, but to see it reflected in commercial architecture is terrible.”

05 Votes: 6

Former DFO building

Spencer Street, city (2005)

According to the City of Melbourne’s website, the 25,000-square-metre, warehouse-style building next to Southern Cross Station gives “the western CBD quarter a fresh retail experience to be excited about”. Not so, said Mark van den Enden of Suters Architects: “This building turns its backside to all and blocks out any possible connection to the city or Docklands.”

06 Votes: 5

Crown Entertainment Complex

8 Whiteman Street, Southbank (1997)

For bells and whistles – and big granite pillars that dispense seven-metre fireballs – Crown is hard to go past. The complex includes three hotels, a huge gaming floor, cinemas, restaurants, boutiques, and a bowling alley. But Ben Statkus at Statkus Architecture called it “an incoherent compilation of blingy buildings that were dated from the day it opened”.

06 Votes: 5

Westin Hotel

205 Collins Street, city (2000)

The hotel on half of the former city square is a 12-storey postmodern design with 284 rooms, bay windows and a four-storey rounded section at the top. “Dumb and simply not appropriate,” said Steve Rose at Steve Rose Architect, who added that a better building would have added something to the city square.

06 Votes: 5

South Yarra Square apartments

100 Commercial Road, South Yarra (1992)

This brown European-style apartment complex on the corner of Punt Road boasts a gym, a sauna, and underground parking – but the most arresting element to the passerby is probably the private balconies, each with decorative iron insets. “A very unattractive building,” said one architect, while Richard Kerr commented: “Simply brainless, and what an insult to the bluestone church next door.”

10 Votes: 4

Gateway Apartments

cnr Nicholson Street and Brunswick Road, Brunswick East (2010)

City and mountain views and proximity to “cafe culture” between North Carlton and Brunswick are some of the selling points of these flats in a “mixed use” block (with retail spaces on the ground floor). But one architect said the design seemed geared to fulfilling a “checklist” of building regulations, and had not been developed enough. “It’s a gateway to Brunswick, it could have been great.”

10 Votes: 4

Hisense Arena

Melbourne Park (2000)

Like its bigger sibling, Rod Laver, Hisense is a multi-purpose venue that has hosted, among many other things, boxing, cycling, wrestling, netball and a concert by Iron Maiden. Its retractable roof takes no more than 10 minutes to close and raked, retractable seating can create a capacity of 10,500 (Rod Laver seats 14,820). But “this is a difficult building to navigate, and it sits awkwardly in its context in Melbourne Park,” said the directors of Cox Architecture. “This is soulless and nasty construction. The colour is a cheap trick. It is a mean box which offers the public and users very little.”

Debbie Ryan on Carlton student housing

Which are Melbourne’s best buildings and which are its ugliest? Susannah Walker asked architects all over the city to cast their votes …Of all the buildings in Melbourne, which ones are the best? And which are the worst? We put these questions to 140 architects, from swish city firms to lone operators in the ‘burbs. Our survey, conducted by phone and email, asked them to tell us their three favourite Melbourne buildings, and the three they like the least, and why.

Then we held our breath. Would the notoriously competitive architecture fraternity be willing to publicly celebrate its own, and openly criticise in equal measure? As one architect admitted, “It’s a very difficult task … the risk of offending other architects or building designers is a worry.”

In the end, with a bit of badgering, we received responses from architects at 35 firms. Not bad, we thought. But what surprised us was how passionately many of those architects responded. They waxed lyrical about the buildings they love – timeless, spellbinding, profound and brilliant were among the words used – and, equally, didn’t hold back about those they loathe (soulless, nasty, tacky and confused were among the descriptions). “Simply brainless,” said Richard Kerr of a South Yarra apartment building, while his take on a Cremorne office block was: “(This is) what happens when a dog throws up over the designer’s paper and they simply print it for construction!” Maggie Edmond told us she averts her eyes whenever she passes the “silly beyond belief” Pixel building (which, incidentally, won both best and worst building votes).

But when these guys love a building, boy, do they love it. Jane Cameron thought the former BHP House was stunning: “It is classical modernism at its best”, while Debbie Ryan said of the Arts Centre complex: “This collection of buildings … says everything about composition; restraint and exuberance in perfect balance.”

A number of respondents gave the topic considerable thought. Maria Danos held a brainstorming session with her colleagues at MA Architects, while Rachel Nolan and the team at Kennedy Nolan whittled down a long line of contenders for their “worst” list during the weekly office lunch. “It made for quite an entertaining conversation,” she said. Mark van den Enden also consulted his colleagues, who discussed their selection criteria, concluding: “Perhaps the best, and indeed the worst, should be judged in terms of both energy consumption and design aesthetics.”

David Anderson pondered how to reduce the number of buildings on his “best” list, in the end limiting himself to the CBD and surrounds: “An interesting topic and one that required much thought.”

From the responses we received, we compiled two lists: one of the 10 “best” buildings and another of the 10 voted “worst”. We arrived at these by allocating three points to a building that an architect or firm had named first on their list, then two points for second place, and one point for third. It was a close race to the top of the “best” list, with Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street, South Yarra, house nudging out the Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre and the former BHP House (which tied for second place) by one vote.

It was a different story with the “worst” list, with a wide margin between the first placegetter – the Melbourne Aquarium (36 votes) – and second, a student housing block in Carlton (16 votes). In fact, the aquarium got 19 more votes than any other building in our survey. One respondent declared it one of the world’s ugliest buildings, adding: “There are so many ideas at play that it seems like a committee drafted the design over a glass or two of dirty river water.” The aquarium, completed in 2000 by architects Peddle Thorp, has attracted criticism before, most recently in The Sunday Age when Simon Knott, director of BKK Architects, commented: “It’s a shit building, a really awful building in a prominent position.”

In 2004, Peter Brook, design director of Peddle Thorp Melbourne, hit back at the building’s critics in The Age. It was probably the most complicated building Peddle Thorp had ever tackled he said, and given the site’s constraints, a major design and engineering feat. “The significance of the Melbourne Aquarium is not then as an arbitrary work of art but as an innovative piece of design on many levels. That is what architecture should be about.” Without question, the building was iconic, “not because of its appearance but because it is a place which works and which people enjoy using. That is also surely the prime purpose of great architecture.”

Perhaps beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. As one architect said of our survey: “There will no doubt be as many opinions as there are buildings.”

yoursayWhich Melbourne buildings get your votes for best and worst? Email us at theagemelbournemagazine.com.au

TOP 10 BUILDINGS

01 Votes: 17

Robin Boyd house

290 Walsh Street, South Yarra (1958)

The family home of architect Robin Boyd is regarded as one of his finest domestic works. Boyd designed it while he was writing The Australian Ugliness, and it is a critique of suburban housing at the time: its living areas are open plan, arranged around a central courtyard that is sheltered from prevailing southerly and northerly winds (no traditional front and back yards and unused side bits of land here). The Robin Boyd Foundation bought the house from the Boyds in 2005, and it has kept the original furniture and paintings. “It’s a sophisticated design for an Australian house in a time of rampant brick veneer,” said Emilio Fuscaldo and Imogen Pullar of Nest Architects.

02 Votes: 16

Former BHP House

140 William Street, city (1972)

BHP’s new headquarters of glass and steel was 41 storeys, making it Australia’s tallest building when it was finished. The design team was led by Barry Patten, whose work includes the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The National Trust now regards BHP House as an “extremely refined and successful” example of a modernist building where you can see the structure of the steel trusses on the facade. Apart from its sculptural appearance, it is heritage listed for elements such as the innovative way the steel and concrete were used, allowing for an interior without columns. “It’s elegant and cool – could have been built last year,” said Damian Williams from Element Architects.

02 Votes: 16

Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre

St Kilda Road, city (2003)

The $7-million visitor centre, under the grassy mound on which the 1934 Shrine rests, scooped several awards for architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall, including the Royal Australian Institute of Architect’s 2004 best project. The walls of its entry courtyard symbolise trench shutters used in war. “Try and walk into the ochre-stained walled entry courtyard and not be moved,” said Richard Kerr of Richard Kerr Architecture. “A brilliant and respectful addition to one of our city’s most sacred places,” said Corbett Lyon, a director of Lyons.

04 Votes: 12

National Gallery of Victoria

St Kilda Road, city (1968)

Sir Roy Grounds was knighted and awarded the RAIA gold medal for his imposing bluestone-clad design. The gallery was renovated and reopened in 2003 with, among other changes, two of its courtyards covered over. Although she thought it had been “tampered” with, Jane Cameron at Jane Cameron Architects said: “Good architecture always transcends time. The NGV is certainly an example of this.”

05 Votes: 10

Federation Square

Flinders Street, city (2002)

With its facades of sandstone, zinc and glass, the buildings in Melbourne’s new civic meeting place caused a stir all the way to its opening, six years after premier Jeff Kennett had launched a competition for its design. London-based Lab Architecture Studio was the pick of 177 entrants and worked with Melbourne firm Bates Smart. “They really got it right with the textures and materials and the lighting,” said Maria Danos from

MA Architects. The square itself is paved with half a million sandstone cobblestones, including one containing a prehistoric oyster shell.

06 Votes: 9

Orica House

1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne (1958)

This 20-storey office block was once well-known for the panes that kept shattering on its west facade, due to nickel salt impurities in the Belgian glass. Today, the building’s glazed glass curtain walls are a symbol of its time – the prosperous, progressive post-war years. Said Kate Frear, principal architect at Woods Bagot: “Its modernist facade has endured.” Designed by Bates Smart McCutcheon, it is one of the few post-war office buildings on the Victorian Heritage Register.

07 Votes: 7

ACCA

111 Sturt Street, Southbank (2002)

The rusty steel facade of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, and the sharply contrasting metal and glass foyer within, prompted gushing among the architects we polled. “Fantastic use of materials and form,” said Victoria Hamer, while Steve Rose proclaimed it “a dramatic, stunning, yet simple building that will remain timeless”. ACCA’s design, by Wood Marsh, is based on the European model of the “kunsthalle,” or exhibition hall, and is essentially a shell housing four gallery spaces that open out from the foyer.

08 Votes: 6

Monaco House

22 Ridgway Place, city (2008)

Built for the Consulate of Monaco on an appropriately postage stamp-sized block in one of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, this compact four-storey building has a striking folded and crumpled facade. Designed by McBride Charles Ryan, Corbett Lyon described it as a little gem of a building: “It’s a formal tour de force, sitting confidently on its small site and reflecting the lost fine grain of our city’s laneways.” Monaco House was shortlisted in the top 12 civic buildings in the World Architecture Festival awards.

08 Votes: 6

Council House 2

218 Little Collins Street, city (2006)

One of the world’s greenest buildings, the City of Melbourne’s eco-office block consumes only 15 per cent of the energy of a regular building and about 30 per cent of the water. CH2, designed by Mick Pearce and Design Inc, is an example of bio-mimicry architecture, where a building uses sustainable technology copied from the natural world (the cooling and heating systems were inspired by termite nests). The first to get six stars for environmental design from the Green Building Council of Australia, its features include a facade of solar-powered sun-tracking louvres.

}10 Votes: 5.5

Heide II

7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen (1968)

This single-level home, designed by David McGlashan and Neil Everist for John and Sunday Reed’s Heidelberg artists’ retreat, features a sequence of rooms and courtyards that showcase a tranquil garden setting. Limestone and white terrazzo provided a neutral background for the Reeds’ art collection. Adrian Light, director of ONE20 Group Architects, said it was one of Australia’s better modernist buildings. “I love the way the spaces interlock with each other.””Councils can change the environmental agenda for buildings in Melbourne.”

Mark van den Enden on Council House 2I Robin Boyd house

The home of the modernist architect is one of his finest works.A Council House 2

The City of Melbourne’s office block is one of the world’s greenest.A Heide II Interlocking walls create a sequence of rooms and courtyards showcasing the garden.”This project has been an important part of the revitalisation of the CBD that has occurred over the past 10 years.”

Vanessa Bird on Federation Square

A Federation Square The textures and materials are spot on in the city’s meeting place.”A small building that makes a big statement about Melbourne architecture and the excitement of finding a hidden gem.”

Juliet Moore on Monaco House

I Former BHP House Elegant and innovative modernism.”A graceful building with inherent solidity, representing the importance of art in history and contemporary times.” Richard Barrack on the NGVA Monaco House A compact four-storey building

in one of Melbourne’s smallest laneways, with a striking crumpled and folded facade.A National Gallery of Victoria

The imposing bluestone-clad design brought accolades for Sir Roy Grounds.”Architecture at its most unexpected but resolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Try and walk into the ochre-stained walled entry courtyard and not be moved.” Richard Kerr on the Shrine’s Visitor Centre

“This building is stunning.

It is the Audrey Hepburn of architecture.”

Jane Cameron onthe former BHP HouseI Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre

Its entry courtyard symbolise trench shutters used in war. I Orica House

An enduring symbol of post-war prosperity.”I love it for its potent image of the future.”

Maggie Edmond on the Australian Centre for Contemporary ArtI ACCA

Designed like a European exhibition hall.A Melbourne Aquarium Winner of the “ugliest” building gong.A RMIT Building 8 The whimsical design once won a major architecture award.A Student housing Students call it the “rainbow building”.A ANZ World Headquarters Mock period style on Collins Street.”Strangely, two buildings in one, composed of false bay windows and balustrades, attempting a French ambience but achieving a Dallas hybridity.”

Norman Day on the Westin HotelA Former DFO building A lost chance to connect Docklands with the CBD?A Crown Entertainment Complex

Blingy buildings.

A Westin Hotel

Two buildings in one that add little to the city square.A South Yarra Square

An unattractive, brown apartment block. A Apartment building

An unresolved design in Brunswick East.A Hisense Arena Awkward in its Melbourne Park setting.

BOTTOM 10 BUILDINGS

01 Votes: 36

Melbourne Aquarium

Flinders Street, cnr King Street (2000)

Designed to resemble a ship moored to the river, the aquarium attracted more criticism than any other building in our survey. Corbett Lyon was among those who claimed it was “Melbourne’s worst building”, adding that “a tacky pastiche of portholes, masts, sails, blue waves and a neon fish sign makes it look like an overblown seafood restaurant”. The building’s architects, Peddle Thorp, told The Age in 2004 that it was “an innovative piece of design on many levels”.

02 Votes: 16

Student housing

522 Swanston Street, Carlton (2004)

Students call it the “rainbow building” but survey respondents were less kind when describing this gelati-hued apartment block. One architect said it was “student housing that looks more like a remand centre or self-storage facility”. Debbie Ryan, a principal of McBride Charles Ryan, added: “The clip on balconies are useless.”

03 Votes: 8

RMIT Building 8

360 Swanston Street, city (1992)

Initially controversial because it broke key modernist taboos, it went on to win the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design, with the judges describing it as “an outstanding and confronting building which evokes strong emotions and lasting impressions …” Said Victoria Hamer of Victoria Hamer Architects: “It has dated badly.”

03 Votes: 8

ANZ World Headquarters

100 Queen Street, city (1993)

This 37-floor postmodern office tower is linked with historic buildings on the same site by a series of atriums and internal chambers. It is an uneasy relationship, said David Anderson of David Anderson Architecture: “Mock period style in residential architecture is lazy, but to see it reflected in commercial architecture is terrible.”

05 Votes: 6

Former DFO building

Spencer Street, city (2005)

According to the City of Melbourne’s website, the 25,000-square-metre, warehouse-style building next to Southern Cross Station gives “the western CBD quarter a fresh retail experience to be excited about”. Not so, said Mark van den Enden of Suters Architects: “This building turns its backside to all and blocks out any possible connection to the city or Docklands.”

06 Votes: 5

Crown Entertainment Complex

8 Whiteman Street, Southbank (1997)

For bells and whistles – and big granite pillars that dispense seven-metre fireballs – Crown is hard to go past. The complex includes three hotels, a huge gaming floor, cinemas, restaurants, boutiques, and a bowling alley. But Ben Statkus at Statkus Architecture called it “an incoherent compilation of blingy buildings that were dated from the day it opened”.

06 Votes: 5

Westin Hotel

205 Collins Street, city (2000)

The hotel on half of the former city square is a 12-storey postmodern design with 284 rooms, bay windows and a four-storey rounded section at the top. “Dumb and simply not appropriate,” said Steve Rose at Steve Rose Architect, who added that a better building would have added something to the city square.

06 Votes: 5

South Yarra Square apartments

100 Commercial Road, South Yarra (1992)

This brown European-style apartment complex on the corner of Punt Road boasts a gym, a sauna, and underground parking – but the most arresting element to the passerby is probably the private balconies, each with decorative iron insets. “A very unattractive building,” said one architect, while Richard Kerr commented: “Simply brainless, and what an insult to the bluestone church next door.”

10 Votes: 4

Gateway Apartments

cnr Nicholson Street and Brunswick Road, Brunswick East (2010)

City and mountain views and proximity to “cafe culture” between North Carlton and Brunswick are some of the selling points of these flats in a “mixed use” block (with retail spaces on the ground floor). But one architect said the design seemed geared to fulfilling a “checklist” of building regulations, and had not been developed enough. “It’s a gateway to Brunswick, it could have been great.”

10 Votes: 4

Hisense Arena

Melbourne Park (2000)

Like its bigger sibling, Rod Laver, Hisense is a multi-purpose venue that has hosted, among many other things, boxing, cycling, wrestling, netball and a concert by Iron Maiden. Its retractable roof takes no more than 10 minutes to close and raked, retractable seating can create a capacity of 10,500 (Rod Laver seats 14,820). But “this is a difficult building to navigate, and it sits awkwardly in its context in Melbourne Park,” said the directors of Cox Architecture. “This is soulless and nasty construction. The colour is a cheap trick. It is a mean box which offers the public and users very little.” Debbie Ryan on Carlton student housing

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