With a sensitive, collaborative, and bold approach, Gray Puksand breathes new life into one of Melbourne’s most sought after locations.

222 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, is an iconic 26-storey office tower built in the mid-eighties. After being purchased by LaSalle Investment Management in 2015, Gray Puksand was engaged to deliver a new masterplan for the tower, and design solutions for its podium, lobby, end-of-trip facilities, and office tenancies. The first stage comprises a new facade and ground-floor lobby, due for completion in early 2018.

With the building’s prominent architectural history came a need to respect yet modernise the podium. Gray Puksand worked closely with the City of Melbourne’s Urban Design and Heritage teams. The new designs respond directly to the building’s context. On the corner of Little Bourke and Exhibition, it is at the heart of Chinatown and the theatre district. This positioning called for a little bit of drama.

The main design brief was to update the original entry and podium, which in some ways was quite fortress-like, with faceted glass, a heavy canopy detail, and then a relatively short throw to the core of the building. This restricted space was further compressed by an existing elliptical bulkhead, which was visually heavy and imposing.