Melbourne has some fine corporate buildings. A number are not open to the public. but some buildings have incorporated public access into their design as part of the corporate image presented both to the public and their employees. Our current favourite is ANZ headquarters in Docklands. This is the largest single tenant office block in Australia and together with the nearby Myer and NAB headquarters plus Channel 9 it has moved the corporate centre of gravity to the bottom end of Collins Street.
It is one of the greenest buildings in Australia with wind turbines, green roofs, solar collectors etc. When you enter you find yourself in a large atrium with numbers of coffee shops and restaurants plus couches and low tables suited to eating, informal meetings, reading the paper or using your laptop while work continues above your head in the transparent office areas.
The whole area is relatively free of traffic as a large proportion of the workers commute by tram, train, bike or just plain walking. In fact watching the employees walk to and from Southern Cross Station makes an interesting contrast with John Brack’s famous painting Collins St 5pm. In that painting a crowd of grim-faced grey office workers troops past the Bank of New South Wales.
Their modern day equivalents finding themselves in open parkland instinctively increase their personal space. However, as is often the case with crowds, most unwittingly adopt the pace and speed of the group. It was this tendency that led the Australian designers of London’s Millennium Bridge into some unexpected dramas.
The relative lack of car traffic renders makes for pleasant surroundings. At one end of the building is Docklands Park with barbecues, playgrounds and plenty of grass for lying in the sun while at the other end is a small park area overlooking the river and suitable for eating a sandwich or reading a book. However the main frontage looks out across the Yarra River and I feel that the ANZ Building makes better use of its riverfront location than just about any other building in Melbourne. If you want a view or photograph from the other side of the river, walk across the fishtrap bridge to Yarra’s’ Edge from where you can see the whole building with boats in the foreground. For an uninterrupted view walk further downstream to the last pontoon in the marina which will take you out to the middle of the river. The building has already numbers of design awards including prestigious International ones.
Next time you are in the city and looking for a quiet break why not take a Victoria Harbour tram down Collins Street and look out for the big ANZ logo (which rumour has it was designed by Lenny The Pen). Have a wander through and see what you think. It is only open during business hours on weekdays and not at all on the weekend. Remember this is not a jeans and tee shirt environment so pay your hosts the courtesy of dressing appropriately before wandering through their living room.