Emily McPherson Redevelopment – Building 13
New home of the Graduate School of Business and Law
The Emily McPherson College Building, a magnificent heritage listed property located on the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets, has been redeveloped and is now home of the MBA and Juris Doctor programs and an executive education suite.
Our approach is both analytical and responsive across a full range of project types: we consider heritage as dynamic and inspirational and strive to create new work in the context of what makes a place matter. Well known for our singular expertise in conservation, restoration and reconstruction of cherished and nationally significant heritage sites, we are equally committed to sensitive and compatible development of place.
Completed in July 2010, the building boasts the latest in multimedia technology, teaching and meeting spaces especially designed for collaborative learning and excecutive education. Other special features include a roof top patio with views of Melbourne’s CBD.
Emily McPherson College Building (Building 13) the home of the Graduate School of Business and Law.
Corner of Russell and Victoria Streets, City campus
Budget: Approx: $23.2 million (Contract pending)
Architect: Lovell Chen Architects
Start Date: October 2007
Completion Date: July 2010
RMIT Project Manager: Graeme Martin
Client Relations Manager: Tony Metherell
- Compliance with a 4 Star Green Building Council of Australia Rating for Design
- Future potential for the Ethel Margaret McPherson wing to house further graduate programs
- Rooftop corporate facilities
- Learning and teaching spaces customised for executive education
- Multi-purpose hall
- Student lounge
- Cutting-edge multimedia technology
Externally, the Emily McPherson College building has been detached from the Old Melbourne Gaol and a new façade has been introduced as part of the redevelopment to open the rear of the building to the campus beyond. A new rooftop addition colonises the previously abandoned roof terrace.
Internally, the generous, high-volumed spaces of the original classrooms are being reinterpreted as 'next generation' collaborative learning environments that make the most of the access to natural light and outlook while creating spaces that students will enjoy occupying outside the traditional context of a formal class. The need for spaces in the building to be interactive and flexible to encourage students to linger, chat and engage with their peers was a fundamental part of the brief.
Lovell Chen, a contemporary architectural practice with more than 25 years’ experience in design and heritage was commissioned to design and project manage the $23 million redevelopment of the Emily McPherson College building as purpose built premises for the Graduate School of Business and Law.
The multidisciplinary team at Lovell Chen is unique in the field, combining architects and designers with historians, researchers, materials experts and a range of other specialists in aspects of our built environment, past and future.
RMIT unveils future design stars
Emily’s Café offers delights
Latest project images
The Emily McPherson College Building – a little history
Building 13, home of the Graduate School of Business and Law, is on the Government Buildings Register of the Heritage Council of Victoria and the Register of the National Estate. It is classified by the National Trust and is designated a ‘notable building’ in the Melbourne City Council planning scheme.
In the beginning…
Originally the Emily McPherson College, the building is a testament to the public philanthropy of businessman and politician Sir William McPherson, who donated £25,000 towards its cost and named it after his wife. Emily McPherson College was the principal centre of domestic science teaching in Victoria. It is also significant as the first institution in Victoria specifically established for training teachers and others in domestic economy.
The college gave a broad education to women, and later men were enrolled. (Today, of course, RMIT's programs are open to everyone regardless of gender, and annual total enrolments of women and men are usually balanced.)
The official opening in 1927 – a royal connection
In 1927 the Duke of York (later George VI) and the Duchess paid a royal visit to Australia and the Duchess graciously agreed to perform the opening ceremony. The Age on the following day estimated that a crowd of 5,000 people had gathered in Eight Hours Place, mainly women, with many organisations represented and with a guard of honor formed by students from schools as far afield as Ballarat and Bendigo.
The Emily McPherson building, constructed in 1927, is architecturally significant for its simplified neo-Greek external treatment. It is an outstanding example of the pervasive influence of American architecture in Australia in the early twentieth century. The stripped Beaux Arts style of contemporary American official architecture is evidenced in the symmetrical front elevation with Doric portico, the simplified treatment of the walls and the vestigial pediment, and decorative details such as the saltire crosses on the windows and balcony and Greek fretwork on the portico floor. While other public and commercial buildings in the 1920s adopted elements of the style, generally within a variety of other stylistic contexts ranging from an academic Beaux Arts to a neo-colonial Georgian style, the Emily Mac parallels official stripped neo-Greek style more closely than other buildings of the period.
Additional information about this, and other RMIT capital works projects can be found on the RMIT property services website.