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Landmark Beaux Arts Triumph

Circa 1929

The Former Port of Melbourne Authority Building is a nine storey structure erected by Hansen and Yuncken in 1929-1931 to a design by Sydney Smith, Ogg and Serpell. The base and entrance surrounds are of polished
Harcourt Granite, while the rest of the building was constructed of Stawell Stone on a steel frame.

Arched windows extend through the first and second floors and are topped with a fanlight treatment and decorated with diagonal steel mullions and a bronze spandrel panel at first floor level. The second floor functions as a plinth for the next four ionic-ordered storeys. There are four columns, passing through the four floors, to each of the Market Street and Flinders Lane facades.

The eighth floor facade is represented as a frieze with alternating windows and decorative panels representing metopes and triglyphs. The refined detailing of the exterior is replicated in the interior, which features Doric columns and extensive use of marble. The building was occupied by the Port Authority until 1982, when the former State Electricity Commission took over. Refurbished, subdivided and converted to apartments and ground level retail with the inclusion of the two top storeys in 2000.

The architectural worth was recognised soon after completion, when it won the 1933 Royal Victorian Institute of Architects’ Street Architecture Medal.

Beaux Arts – Art Deco

In architecture, Art Deco was the successor to and reaction against Art Nouveau, a style which flourished in Europe between 1895 and 1900, and also gradually replaced the Beaux-Arts and neoclassical that were predominant in European and American architecture.

The Beaux-Arts style was relatively uncommon in Australia, tending to be reserved for large, monumental commissions often of government buildings.

The Port Authority Building is classified by:
National Trust (B4119)
Victorian Heritage Register (H0965)
Port Authority Building is protected by state law

This site was occupied for about fifty years, until 1913, by the head office of the Melbourne Savings Bank. It was purchased by the Melbourne Harbour Trust in 1913 and the former bank building was used by the Trust until converted to its current use.

Australian materials and craftsmen were used wherever possible in the construction of the building. It was one of 17 buildings erected between 1922 and 1933 that reached the 132 foot Melbourne City Council height limit.


Dionne Wilson - Harcourts Melbourne CityDionne Wilson
0417 318 705