“This area, once disdainfully shunned, will now be embraced forever.”
Mr. Kennett said the site where the Oil and Gas buildings once stood would become the city’s new focal point.
Federation Square is a $128 million project funded by the Melbourne Government and City Council. The $90 million rationalization of Jolimont, which will involve moving the Metropol building and reducing the number of rail lines to 12, will be financed by the government.
The government will also fund a $95 million extension of Exhibition Street to the City Link project, and the council will provide $15 million for the rejuvenation of the riverside park.
The design competition received 177 entries, 25 percent of which came from abroad. The seven-member judging panel, chaired by Professor Neville Quarry of the University of Sydney, shortlisted five companies.
Professor Quarry said that the winner had provided a challenging piece of architecture. Many buildings would have stone, zinc, or glass facades. He said that the winner had been selected unanimously.
“The winning proposal is an exciting, original and intelligent complex of buildings and spaces that will enrich the city, engage the public with inventive and sympathetic architecture, and provide an inspiring addition to Melbourne’s heritage,” Professor Quarry’s report said.
Work on the project is expected to begin early next year and be completed in 2001.
One of the architects responsible for the design, Mr. Peter Davidson of Lab Architectural Studio, said the concept was innovative but not derivative. He said he was inspired in part by Melbourne’s extensive pedestrian network of galleries and lanes.
None of the zinc, sandstone and glass buildings would be taller than the dome of Flinders Street Station.
The Lord Mayor, Cr Ivan Deveson, said he liked the design. “When I first saw it I was impressed, but not overwhelmed. The more I see it, the more I think it will be a very compatible design, drawing attention to Melbourne.”