The refurbishment of our ground floor is an extensive project, and one that we hope will have an immensely positive impact to the experience for our customers now, and well into the future. We spoke with Tanya Lambert, Senior Asset Manager at AXA IM Alts to get an understanding of how this decision was made, and the depth of thought that went into the design.
What triggered the need for a lobby refurbishment and why was it a priority for the building?
The lobby is such an iconic space, and a large part of 101’s identity. It was not an easy task, therefore, to resolve a refurbishment scope that would be sympathetic to the original architectural intent of the lobby, but it was important to bring the ground floor plane up to our customers expectations – not just in terms of the architecture, but also to provide a richer and more relevant human experience. There was a lot of underutilised space on the ground floor, as well as a lack of respite space. This was an intentional part of the original design in the 1990s, but the way people use office buildings – and certainly, what they expect from office buildings - has now changed.
Our customers want dwell space, places where they can take in the architecture and grandeur of the space, and we had also seen an increasing desire for outdoor green space before COVID, which has now only grown. Opening up our east garden was a critical part of the project, and we hope in the creation of a sanctuary garden in this space, we will deliver an oasis in the centre of the CBD that will provide another layer to the 101 Collins experience.
What were the key considerations that went into the project?
The refurbishment of the lobby itself was challenging – office buildings are no longer built with the same volume of space given over to a ground floor entry, so from the outset, the project was always going to be a large task. We were also mindful of the elements that were synonymous with 101’s identity – for example the columns, and the unique bullseye floor stone detail to the entrance off Colins Street. An extensive selection process was undertaken to identify the right architect to partner with for the project, and we were delighted to select Bates Smart, who demonstrated from the outset that they understood our ambitions for the space and were also not afraid to challenge us on elements that they felt needed to change.
We acknowledged that certain finishes dated the entry experience and therefore needed to be removed – the peach floor marble for example, will be reimagined for a more contemporary experience with new stone finishes – but in doing so, we have been mindful to still retain the bullseye pattern.
Lighting was also a huge part of the redesign, which can completely change how visitors feel in the space and will also be used to highlight ‘hero’ elements such as the columns, and the new artwork commissions.
The artwork has been a big part of the project – 101 Collins has always housed artwork, however the current works were less relevant to today’s audience, and we saw an opportunity to house new pieces that would significantly add to the user experience. We conducted a global search for the right artists and pieces for the space, and we are extremely excited for the commissions to be unveiled over the next 12 months. We wanted our customers and visitors to walk into the space and be blown away by the experience every single day. We have the volume of space in the lobby that would rival any gallery in the world in terms of its scale, and this was an opportunity we were determined to leverage.
How do you think the planned refurbishment speaks to the changing needs of the workplace? How do you hope this project will benefit the customers of 101 Collins?
The role of office buildings has changed. The office is no longer needed to just physically house equipment or supervise staff, it has become a place where the workplace experience must be elevated - we need to give our customers a better work day than they could have at home. The human or community experience that landlords can offer their customers will be a key differentiator in the future. 101 Collins has always done this in many ways, but I think this is now very much ‘business as usual’ in the fight to lure occupiers into CBDs around Australia. There are challenges ahead for both landlords and occupiers, but ultimately what will evolve from this disruption is a much richer work experience which will greatly benefit current and future generations.
More than an iconic Melbourne landmark, 101 Collins Street is where influential businesses exchange exceptional ideas.