Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Argus Building - Open House Melbourne

Melbournians, do you remember the boarded up, graffitied mess of a building on the corner of Latrobe and Elizabeth? It was hidden behind random posters of all sorts of things, with broken windows above street level, and had all the markings of a completely abandoned building right in the middle of the city.

Well, you should see it now!

The Argus Building was open on the Sunday of Open House Melbourne this year, and Jessie and I lined up for over 2 and a half hours for our chance to get a look inside. It was worth it!

Once we were in the group at the front of the line, we could enter the corner Advertising Hall - a space with high ceilings, white ornate features, and walls of the history of the building.

The Argus was a daily newspaper in Melbourne, and the first in the world to publish colour. The pages were produced and printed here in this building, with large printing presses running much of the night, which could reportedly be heard and the rumbling vibrations could be felt all the way to Flinders Street. The newspaper ran from 1846 to 1957.

In the 1990s, the site was a shell, where the homeless often sheltered. A gutted, abandoned shell, the building has been saved by a redevelopment by a private university, and is due to be complete later this year, ready for the academic year next year.

The Project Manager, who has been working on the restoration and transformation of this site over the past 4 years, was the person to show each of the tour groups around, and his love of the project and his work oozed with each detail he showed off to us. This really added to the delight of our preview look inside.

Tiny whispers of the graffiti remain on a couple of the beams of the wide and open interior - but most of what we saw was modern spaces ready for learning facility fit-outs.

But the restoration of the original pieces are the most impressive. The exterior is a stunning addition to this busy city corner, and adds a sense of history and heritage to the area.

Much of the detail of the columns had to be remodelled, as the damaged state of disrepair was too much, but it has been done so lovingly true to the original design. Although it's not quite the original colour - this hue was dictated by the City of Melbourne.

The sight of the building from across the road is stunning - the original window frames and the restored columns are impressive. New life to this corner of the city.

The tower on top, which was a vision by the original designer of the building in The Argus days, complete with a clock tower, but was never completed. There is a lofty ambition of finishing this one day in the new development plans, because all the plans still exist. Imagine!

This was a very popular building of the OHM weekend, and a new feature of our great city - a pretty amazing place to be heading to class and chipping away at a qualification.

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