The Emily McPherson Building

The new home for the Graduate School of Business and Law

Photo: The rejuvenated façade of the newly refurbished Emily McPherson Building.

The rejuvenated façade of the newly refurbished Emily McPherson Building.


Corner Russell and Victoria Streets, Melbourne

Project overview

The heritage-listed Emily McPherson building opened in 1927. Originally known as the Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy, the Emily McPherson building became the centre of home economics teaching in Victoria.

In 1979, the Emily McPherson College amalgamated with RMIT and the repertoire of programs that were taught in the building expanded to fashion, textiles and food science.

Read more about the history of the building.

The Emily McPherson building – also known as Building 13 – is being refurbished to accommodate the College of Business Graduate School of Business, which is temporarily located at 300 Queen Street, pending completion of the Building 13 renovations.

The Ethel Margaret McPherson wing will also be renovated at a later date with works beginning in 2009.

The Emily McPherson building will also be fitted out with commercial conference facilities and will open its doors to the wider community to host forums and seminars.

The Emily McPherson building has all of the features of the neo-classical architectural style. The imposing façade, with its elevated portico and Doric columns will be rejuvenated and will be the doorway to a state-of-the-art learning and teaching facility.

The grounds surrounding the Emily McPherson Building will also undergo landscaping in a two-stage process.

Building features

  • Learning and teaching spaces customised for corporate and executive education
  • Two lecture theatres and five classrooms
  • Flat-floor flexible space for teaching/events
  • Multi-purpose hall
  • Catering facilities
  • Hybrid student lounge designed for teaching and socialising
  • A glazed, ground-level street at the rear of the building
  • New rooftop level that contains a board room, hosting room and classrooms
  • Cutting-edge multimedia technology
  • Painted façade of building


Stage 1. Landscaping of the grounds flanking Russell Street and the Emily McPherson Building entrance

  • Granite screenings to the base of the building
  • Granite steps that accommodate building level change
  • Environmentally sustainable, artificially turfed lawns
  • Bluestone edge wall to perimeter of the artificially turfed lawns

Project update

  • June – July 2010
  • January – May 2010
  • September - December 2009
  • June - August 2009
  • June 2009
  • February 2009 – April 2009
  • October 2008 – January 2009
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • May 2008
  • June – July 2010

    The refurbishment and extension of the Emily McPherson Building is now complete and the Graduate School of Business and Law has now relocated into these refurbished premises.

    January – May 2010

    Construction works are virtually finished. Design and development documentation for the first phase of landscaping around the Emily McPherson building is complete and Design Development documentation for the second phase of landscaping is progressing.

    The tender for the landscaping of the Emily McPherson has been issued and the AV/IT and furniture fit-out has begun.

    September – December 2009

    The painting of the heritage-listed Emily McPherson Building’s neoclassical façade is nearly finished. The building’s new pale, cream colour is fresh and striking, and highlights the Doric columns and elevated portico of the neoclassical façade.

    Significant work has been undertaken on the two new additions to the building: the glazed, ground-level street at the rear of the building and the rooftop level that work seamlessly with the building’s original architecture.

    June – August 2009

    The painting of the Russell Street façade is nearing completion. Major structural building works are now underway, including the laying of foundations in the west wing of the building and the erecting of structural steel in Levels 4 and 5.

    February 2009 – April 2009

    The Russell Street–facing façade of the Emily McPherson building is being painted, with around two thirds of the work completed. Extensive work on the underpinning – strengthening of the foundations – of the Emily McPherson building’s west elevation has been undertaken, with 80 per cent of the work completed.

    October 2008 – January 2009

    Demolition works have been carried out at the rear of the Emily McPherson Building to make way for the glazed, ground-level “street” that will open the building up to the rest of the City campus.

    Internally, works are also underway. The large-scale renovation will add a third more floor area to the Emily McPherson building.

    September 2008

    Hooker Cockram Projects Limited has been named the main contractor for the Emily McPherson Building renovation.

    The construction company will be taking possession of the Emily McPherson Building in the week starting Monday, 22 September. Hordeing will be placed around the building soon thereafter.

    August 2008

    A careful archaeological excavation that has been undertaken prior to the main redevelopment work at the Emily McPherson Building has revealed the presence of several features of the old Melbourne Gaol that formerly occupied that site.

    Features include:

    • parts of the circular panopticon watchtower
    • several of the radial walls that delineated the individual men’s yards;
    • traces of a shelter, paving and surface drains of the yards themselves; and
    • footings representing the north west corner of the former Melbourne Gaol Chief Warden’s house

    Footings of the main bluestone perimeter wall of the Melbourne Gaol have also been revealed within the Ethel Osborne Hall.

    July 2008

    The tender for construction companies has closed and the final negotiations with the preferred contractor are underway.

    An archeologist is currently on site and has excavated the footings of the neighbouring Old Melbourne Gaol.

    May 2008

    Preliminary preparatory works began in January and are scheduled to be completed by May.

    The project is currently in contract documentation phase and tenders were called in April.. The main contract works are expected to begin in June 2008 for a planned completion in late 2009.

    Project timeline

    Early works began:

    October 2007

    Major works begin:

    October 2008

    Expected completion date:

    July 2010


    Architect and Heritage Consultant

    Lovell Chen

    RMIT Project Manager

    David Straw and Jamie Nicolson

    Manager, Client Relations

    Tony Metherell

    Main Contractor

    Hooker Cockram Projects Limited

    Building Services Engineer

    Norman Disney and Young Consulting Engineers

    Building Surveyor

    PLP Building Surveying Consultants Pty Ltd

    Quantity Surveyor

    Slattery Australia Pty Ltd

    Structural Engineer

    Beauchamp Hogg Spano Consultants Pty Ltd

    Landscaping Consultant

    Rush Wright Associates


    Dig frees jail ghost

    Herald Sun, Friday, 26 September, 2008

    The original foundations of the Old Melbourne Gaol have been unearthed, giving a rare insight into the primitive conditions prisoners endured in the 19th century.

    [Next: Gallery 1]