Building of the Week

A photograph of 525 Collins Street.


525 Collins Street (Rialto).

The Rialto, or Rialto Towers, is arguably Melbourne's most famous skyscraper. As 101 Collins and 120 Collins define the CBD's Eastern end, so does the Rialto define its Western end. At the time of its opening in 1986, the building was the tallest in the city, tallest in Australia, tallest in the Southern Hemisphere, and 25th tallest in the world. It remained the tallest in the city, country and hemisphere until 1991, when it was surpassed by 101 Collins (which was in turn almost immediately surpassed by 120 Collins). As of 2020, it is the 7th tallest in the city. The building is actually comprised of two towers conjoined at a corner; a taller (823 ft.) south tower and a shorter (607 ft.). north tower.

Prior to the skyscraper's construction, the site was occupied by various smaller buildings - most notably Robb's Building; a large, richly-ornamented, 5-storey Victorian office building named for railway developer John Robb, designed by Thomas Watts & Sons, and built in 1885. Though Robb's Building was grand, by the 1970s, the site had grown derelict. In 1980, the site was acquired by Grollo Australia in a joint venture with St Martin's Properties, who proposed the current building. The construction of the current building necessitated the demolition of Robb's Building, which was opposed by the National Trust, and prompted one of the most prominent conservation battles of the period. Ultimately, however, Grocon won out, and Robb's Building was demolished, although several other Victorian buildings to the east of it (471-477 Collins479-481 Collins483-485 Collins487-495 Collins, and 497-503 Collins). were afforded heritage protection in the process.

The Rialto was designed by Gerard de Preu & Partners in association with Perrott Lyon Mathieson. Construction commenced in 1982 and was completed in 1986. The completed building was named after one of the aforementioned preserved Victorian buildings next door. From 1994 to 2009, an observation deck occupied the 55th floor of the south tower. In 2017, a five-storey podium was added to the base, where Robb's Building was originally located.

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