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PROJECT: Melbourne Convention Centre

58839 Views 502 Replies 91 Participants Last post by  CP Doom

New convention centre, bridge for city's west
By Royce Millar
City Reporter
April 19, 2004

A new footbridge over the Yarra linking Southbank and Docklands will be part of a $330 million convention precinct the State Government is expected to announce in its April statement tomorrow.

The precinct's centrepiece will be a 5000-seat convention centre, or plenary hall, earmarked for the former Mazda site next to the Exhibition Centre, widely known as Jeff's Shed.

Business groups have lobbied for years for a new convention venue, arguing that Melbourne's existing 1500-seat centre is hopelessly outdated.

The State Government has been tight-lipped about details of the April statement and has refused to confirm whether the convention centre project would be included.

Government sources said they expected the project to be a public-private partnership, with a private group building the centre and leasing it to the government.

The managers of the existing exhibition centre - a government-appointed trust - are likely to run the new centre.

But the project will hinge on support from the Melbourne City Council, which will be under intense pressure tomorrow to contribute $43 million, including about $15 million for the bridge.

Yesterday's Government announcement that it would return control of Docklands to the council was clearly timed to encourage the council to support the convention centre.

Yesterday a town hall source said the council had demanded it get Docklands back in return for a contribution to the convention centre.

A private town hall briefing today will be the first formal council discussion on the project. A special council meeting to vote on the contribution has been hastily called for tomorrow to coincide with the April statement.

Lord Mayor John So strongly supports the new centre. He will have the numbers to approve a council contribution.

But the council is split, with as many as four of the nine councillors possibly opposed to council involvement.

Finance committee chairman and former Labor Party member Kevin Chamberlin said yesterday the council administration had confirmed that a large contribution would result in service cuts, a rate rise, or both.

If the convention centre was to be a public-private partnership the council should not contribute, he said.

The Committee for Melbourne called on the council to back the project.

"People come to these conventions with millions of disposable dollars and this has a remarkable knock-on effect for business in the city," executive director Janine Kirk said.

State MPs and councillors have questioned whether Melbourne needs a new centre, when existing venues such as the Docklands football stadium can seat 5000.

But the chief executive of the existing Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Leigh Harry, said that to compete for international conventions, Melbourne needed a centre with a large plenary hall, a large exhibition space, and plenty of smaller meeting rooms.

He said no existing Melbourne venue provided all three.

Mr Harry said among world cities Melbourne had slipped from fourth to 25th in the number of international conventions hosted.

He said that Melbourne's lack of convention capacity made it ineligible for 320 major international conventions.
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IMO its the wrong site...why not incorporate a new convention centre with plans to upgrade the aquarium, across the road from the existing convention centre, in the carpark that separates the rail viaducts? It would involve some creative space usage, but an innovative solution is (always) possible. From the news releases it looks as though an architectural solution to the Mazda site has already been documented/modelled; does anyone know whose work this is?

From what I'm reading its implicitly clear that the cost of the convention centre itself is the $370million dollar figure. Doyle might have landed a solid punch with the Scoresby Freeway but he should carefully consider the numbers before attempting to sway public opinion concerning Bracks' credibility - which is by no means a lost cause! Doyle could be onto a winner if he just learns to stop shooting from the hip.

Hrrm. Next thing we know, an undecided Bracks government will launch a $50million study into which option is best. When the study gets bogged down after 5 years of deliberation (or it doesn't give the answers that the Labor government of the day wants) a $25million enquiry will be launched into the study. The findings, of course, will be inconclusive, apart from that no-vision government doesn't know what the bloody hell to do other than aim for the next election. When the centre does get finally built in 2054 it might be good for cockroach racing on Australia Day, but because the big conventions have long gone to Sydney, Brisbane and the now-thriving metropolis of Oodnadatta, there won't be anyone to convene in it.
Thanks Steve, you make me want to be a worser man.

I will freely admit that:

-I had a premature bitch session about how the Bracks government was going to delay and diminish from and probably hamstring this development through indecision and timidity.
-I also wanted to see an 'iconic' globally memorable structure go up, more out of my remaining vestige of parochial sentimentality than anything else.

I was wrong on both counts. Government ministers have taken a ballsy decision on the much more substantial proposal, and took far less time doing it than I thought they would. (Some of you that have pilloried me for being a Bracks bashing whinger should note that down for posterity. I credited the Bracks government with something; good heavens the end must be nigh! :))
I agree with the prevailing sentiment that this building did not need to be iconic more than it needed to pursue more worthwhile objectives:
-the fantastic river frontage and interaction between promenade and building; if a building like this doesn't work at ground level it doesn't work at all. By the looks of it the manner in which the CC interacts with the riverside is its finest selling point.
-the six star energy rating which, from an economic-viability standpoint
is bloody difficult to comply with.
Melbourne is not and never will be known for a singular iconic structure or structures, but rather for the originality and class that pervades all of the better designed public buildings. Just because a building screams 'look at me' does not make it a good building; nor a kind of building that should be sought after by a city seeking to aspire to more substantial ideals than appearance.
Melbourne always has.

Question: the word was earlier that the entire development was going to go up at about the same time; surely this does not include the residential towers?

Blabby, the interaction between Jeff's Shed and the CC will probably work better at ground level and in practise than it does in the renders.

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