One of Melbourne’s most admired buildings, the neo-Gothic Rialto was built in the 1850s at the height of Victoria’s gold boom and became a hotel in the 1980s, initially as the Menzies then the five-star InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto.
Both the Rialto and the neighbouring Winfield building, a former wool exchange built in 1891, will be retained, however an extension added in the 1980s by the Grollo Group will be demolished. The heritage-listed buildings will maintain their streetscape appearance as the proposed tower is set back and designed not to dominate the original architecture. The heritage buildings will also be refurbished and some original features reinstated.
When it was built, the Rialto building – the name borrowed from Venice’s famous bridge – was regarded as one of the city’s most desirable addresses. The new development takes a similar approach, with an elegant tower designed by Cox Architects rising about 30 storeys featuring soft curves and tapering towards the top and bottom to allow light into the five level historic building below it.
The new mixed-use tower will give the InterContinental 270 new hotel rooms and a new club facility in the Winfield building. There will also be offices and retail facing Flinders Lane and Collins Street.
Heritage Victoria and the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning are being consulted about the development with Salter Brothers expecting to lodge approvals shortly. At this stage, Salter Brothers anticipate construction will begin in 2025 and be complete by 2028.