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PROJECT: Melbourne Convention Centre

60228 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have lobbied for years for a new convention venue, arguing that Melbourne's existing 1500-seat centre is hopelessly outdated.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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Blabbyboy said:
Any architects? Pics of the new centre? It better be an archi-marvel!
I think the architects are COX Sanderson Ness. The render in todays AFR was fairly standard convention centre architecture, so don't hold your breath...from what I remember it is glassy and curved, with an overhanging moderninst COX style roof overlooking the Yarra
Blabbyboy said:
i saw the render in the AFR too - i hope it's just an artist's concept, becos it was bluddy boring...we need something of the calibre of the ACCA or the Kennett era "blades". i can't think of another city that quite made such an architectural identity out of a feature like the blade. even LA and other cities try to have "gateways" that don't have any impact - but over here in humble melbourne, we make bold statements about who we are!!!
I have since found out that the render in the AFR is just a masterplanning concept. The final design will be chosen through a consortium tender bid process (architect+builder+financier teams)....similar process to Spencer St Station. The preferred design will be chosen next year.
OSJ said:
I'm not too keen on this type of precurement. I think it works good for standard government projects, but for something this important it limits the designs to only larger recognised names, and also cancels out real innovation as the banks and builders oversee the architecture.

I think a better approach would be to have a 2 stage process which involved an open international design competition. From that, a shortlist of say 5 designs would be selected. The second stage would be as per spencer street, to ensure buildability, financially security etc. That way an unbuildable design wouldn't attract the financial backing, then wouldn't of course win the second stage, and thus the government wouldn't have egg on the face and a cost blowout.

Federation Square for example would never have occurred as it is because LAB had never built anything, yet it functioned well with them teaming up with Bates Smart. What people tend to forget is that the stuff ups happened on the government/project management side, but the architecture/engineering side worked highly successfully for such a complex project. Since Bracks has been in there hasn't been a design competition for a large civic project. Kennett had us on the right track in this respect with the Museum and Fed Sq.
I fully agree and would love to see that happen here. They are not fast-tracking the process however. The new centre opens in 2008. Given a construction period of say 2 years, that still leaves about a year to get a design chosen. I briefly read in a press release that a two stage process is involved, and you are right in that is emerging as the preferred basis for most major public buildings (Brisbanes' millenium arts projects, etc). However, I think it will be more a first stage of open submissions from consortium teams, with second round of shortlisted teams developing schemes. Not quite an open design process as it means architects have to team with established contractors (and possibly financiers), which generally precludes smaller innovative firms such as what LAB were 7 years ago. Also might limit the international side of things.

True, the process does limit ideas to larger established design practices (I happen to work for one), but that does not mean a bad outcome. Some pre-qualified "established" practices may form relationships with more "innovative" newcomers to gain an edge...anything could still happen.
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Cox group are in the habit of recycling ideas - notice the similarity to King Street Wharf in that promenade perspective?

As far as a masterplan goes, it is very straightforward. Nothing really unexpected. I think the extension of the exhibition halls will be very awkward, but there is not much choice.

Personally, I think it should be a very different design to the exhibition centre, and have a very neutral connection so as not to interfere too much with the promenade / concourse of the existing building. I think it should be either very complementary (IE - a DCM design) or totally different, but VERY contrasting (say an ARM)....the masterplan images are not much of either

As a very preliminary masterplan sketch, the main problem I have with this is the rectangular buildings with curved roofs that surround the plenery hall - they box it in and don't give any chance for the hall to have its own object / expression....Of course, it is JUST a masterplan so it has to be neutral and non-committal (and uninspiring!) until the real design is chosen.

@Collector - watch for another Hassell - AGE collaboration soon;)
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tayser said:
$10 says this is Grollo's next big project :) that a good thing?

the amount of cut corners on the MCG and QV is staggering...

Either way, it will be won by a consortium that Grocon will be a part of, not just on their own. There will most likely be 3-4 consortiums shortlisted. I can almost guarantee the consortiums will be:

Grocon, Baulderstone Hornibrook, Multiplex and maybe Leightons (if they decide to bid, but based on Southern Cross...)

because it is a PPP, the consortium financiers and facility managers are equally as important as the builders to winning

Grocon have not much experience in PPP projects and the Royal Womens Hospital is the first one they have done to my knowledge....

ABN Amro and Macquarie Bank will be among the main players from the banks side
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plotstyle said:
dont know for that project exaclty but generally finishes and design changes that make the thing easier to build or they just take things out for example a curved feature becomes straight aluminium becomes mild glav steel ect ect feature precast panels become just washed agg ect
yup, that is basicly it

most builders try to 'simplify' things but grocon are a bit more notoroius in the construction industry for doing things cheaply

qv examples are just cutting / cheapening materials - replacing blustone of laneways with concrete pavers, cutting facade materials down etc (BHP would have to be one of the cheapest facades to be built in melbourne ever - i know the facade costs and it was scary!)

admittedly, they do have a bit of guts to do more big-picture style things, even if the detail does'nt get through
pisstake said:
Fountainhead - What have been the cut corners on the MCG?
The changes to [email protected] were from BHP, had nothing to do with Grocon.
I found out I know the architech of the BHP building through my family and he is livid with how it turned out because the cutbacks completely ruined his design
is that carey or corbett?
Grollo said:
The three successful consortia invited to tender for the development in December last year were:

- Convene – Bovis Lend Lease (Builder), Spotless (Services Provider) and ABN AMRO (Equity)
- Melbourne Convention Centre Partnership ("MCCP") – Baulderstone (Builder and Services Provider) and Bilfinger Berger (Equity)
- Multiplex / Plenary Consortium ("MPC") – Multiplex (as Equity, Builder and Services Provider) and Plenary Group (Equity)
Good timing for this thread.....I have been working on this project for the past 4 months, which have involved 70 hour long weeks of pure intensity!

It will be an amazing project for Melbourne (hopefully) no matter which team wins I write this, our final bid drawings are being printed and compiled to be lodged tomorrow!

most of the above is true, but as it is a hugely confidential project I can't say too much except that the MCCP team is not quite what is publicised above - Macquarie Bank (and another builder) took over from Bilfinger Berger / Baulderstones

the DCM image was done prior to the convention centre co-location intent.... part of the bids that get lodged tomorrow is masterplanning to incorporate that size of exhibition centre expansion on the site (as well as convention centre of 50,000SqM+, and commercial development). It will eventually go ahead when the government secures funding, but probably will only get the go ahead after 2008 when the convention centre opens!

by the way, architect teams are:

Convene: Daryl Jackson + TVS Crawford (american convention centre architects), and Peter Hunt (Perth based conevntion centre architect - did Gold Coast Conv centre)

MCCP: HASSELL + HOK (Convention Centre architects) with Bates Smart

MPC: NH Architecture + Woods Bagot with Larry Oltermanns (American Convention Centre Architect)
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OSJ said:
^^^ These kind of projects should always be done as international design competitions, at least in the first round. Whilst I understand they are trying to avoid the cost blowouts of fed square type experimental projects, there is no reason that proper buildability and economic assessments couldn't be a part of the later stages of an open competition.

I don't know what these designs will be like, and they be amazing, but Melbourne has IMO missed alot of opportunities in the last few years to really put itself on the map design wise. The examples I give are -

MCG - big, yes but compare this to the allianz arena or the beijing olympic stadium

Vodaphone - technically sufficient - architecturally awful.

Telstra - didn't even get the technical right - the minute I saw the design, I knew they'd have trouble with shadows and TV, and the grass not growing. The exterior looks like a factory.

CG Village - what an opportunity for urban design, sustainability etc.

Albert Park pool - ho hum suburban sports centre.

Fed Square proves that controversial architecture can be embraced publicly, and the MEC proves that design can be beautiful and technically/economically successful at the same time.
I totally agree OSJ,

but - as the press about this and other issues in the AGE a couple of months ago suggests:

The attitude to procurement of major projects rests with the government of the time. The sad reality is the Bracks labour government has a less than enlightened view on these projects (from an aesthetic view or any other view apart from the bottom line). That is being corrected slightly with the apointment of a State Gov Architect later this year.....

but still, the goverments attitude to this is they consider a project like the convention centre as "infrastructure", not "architecture"...which says it all really

I have also argued about the merits of a two stage process, and there is a lot of rational behind that. However, the attitude in Government is about getting the "best value" outcome, not the "best design" outcome....

The other side of coin is the benefits of the "experience economy" - Bilbao effect etc, which tourism benefits far offset the cost of a little $200-300M building. Again, a diiferent government would see it differently.

of course, this would be a different project under a "Kennet style" government

and anyway, I would wait to see the result before making any judgements about design quality! does'nt mean it's going to be crap!
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