2011 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

500 Bourke Street Podium Redevelopment [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Trevor Mein, Meinphoto. Matt Browne and Bill Kalavriotis from John Wardle Architects


Project Overview

500 Bourke Street Melbourne is a key urban site within Melbourne’s CBD Law District. John Wardle Architects were engaged as the base building architects to redevelop the tower podium and adjoining retail precinct. The site includes the NAB office tower, constructed in the 1970s and a series of retail tenancies below street level and a landscaped garden setting fronting Little Bourke Street. The adjacent Supreme Court Dome to the north presented a distinct characteristic and urban setting for this new proposal. Place making was a key theme explored with the aspiration to create an enlivened series of new public spaces.

Project Commissioner

ISPT Property

Project Creator

John Wardle Architects


Project / Creative Team:
Architectural Project Team:
John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Bill Krotiris, Jasmin Williamson, Tom Drazic, Kirrilly Wilson, Paul Bickell, Lauren Holland, Robert Kolak, Alex Peck, Julian Scanlan, Andrew Wong

Bovis Lend Lease

Consultant Team:
Structural Engineer: Hyder Consulting
Services Engineer: Hyder Consulting
ESD: Lincolne Scott
Landscape Architect: ERM
Building Surveyor: Davis Langdon
DDA Consultant: Blythe Sanderson
Retail Consultant: Future Food
Specialist Lighting Consultant: Electrolight
Signage & Wayfinding: Emery Studio

Project Brief

The brief called for a series of strategies to activate the site. An activated ground plane condition was explored to enable connectivity across the site. New commercial program was inserted into the existing fabric, refurbishment of key interior spaces and external public plazas were created. Key aspects include:
- Steel and fritted glass canopy to the existing facade, presenting a new identity to Bourke Street.
- Significant upgrade works to the tower foyer. This refurbishment included custom designed finishes including plasterglass ceiling and wall panels with integrated lighting.
- Extension of the foyer with a fritted glass canopy with foliage motif providing a new setting for a café fitout by others.
- Retail tenancies over two levels fronting Little Bourke Street. Base building shell tenancies were designed in consultation with a retail consultant to provide a range suitable for the desired retail mix. A significant tenancy at the upper level for a signature restaurant with views towards the Supreme Court Dome.
- Landscaped plazas over two levels for public amenity.
- Base building works for a retail NAB branch within the foyer.
- Base building works for a childcare facility on tower level one, including an external play space with canopy connecting to the existing façade.

Project Innovation / Need

A key component of the podium redevelopment works involved a significant upgrade and refurbishment of the NAB tower foyer. The foyer space was considered as a civic space, and is transformed into a new internal street with direct connection to the northern retail plaza beyond, blurring the boundary between private and public uses. The foyer refurbishment includes an extensive new ceiling treatment and wall cladding to the existing tower core. John Wardle Architects worked closely with specialist lighting consultant, Electrolight to develop a custom designed plasterglass ceiling panel with integrated lighting. The ceiling and core walls were treated as a repetitive pattern field that shifted in appearance from different approaches amplifying the experience of traversing the foyer. Each folded ceiling panel is cast in plasterglass and includes a recessed slot for a linear T5 fluro lighting batten, creating a fully integrated system. Consideration was also given to the type of end cap specified for the fitting to maximise the visibility of the lamp. All wiring, power and transformers are concealed within the ceiling void. A series of prototypes were developed to test and fine tune the design and integration of these elements.

Design Challenge

The grafting and integration of new architectural elements into the existing fabric of the site presented a series of design challenges for the project. To the north of the site, significant areas of existing structural fabric were retained with new built elements integrated and extended from. Significant remodelling of existing areas between the tower podium and the new retail precinct were also undertaken to create new important linkages across the site. The integration of two new glazed canopy structures connected to the existing NAB tower structure also presented a series of specific design detailing challenges. Within the refurbished foyer space, the addition of the new plasterglass ceiling treatment also required detailed coordination with an existing ceiling grid structure.


Sustainability was an important aspect of the project brief. The target for the podium redevelopment works was to meet an AGBR rating of 4.0 stars. A series of ESD strategies were implemented, including energy and water monitoring, replacement of chillers and boilers, efficient air conditioning & lighting and water efficient fixtures. One such example is the selection of light fittings for integration into the foyer plasterglass ceiling panels. John Wardle Architects worked closely with Electrolight to select an energy efficient fitting with a long lamp life. Lamps are also set at a reduced output level to prolong the lamp life.

This award recognises best use of lighting design or effects in indoor or outdoor spaces.

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