Cbus Property boss Adrian Pozzo discusses Collins Arch

By Urban Melbourne (Laurence Dragomir)

Cbus Property's announcement prior to Christmas that it had signed a third tenant for its $1 billion Collins Arch project takes the amount of floor area leased to 20,000sqm or just over 40%. Australian law firm Gadens has committed to 5,000sqm of space over levels 11-13, equating to just over 10 per cent of the 49,000 square meters available.

Gadens will join fellow legal eagles King & Wood Mallesons and HWL Ebsworth within the tower.

Collins Arch was designed to be a signifier of leading design and instantly recognisable as a statement of Melbourne’s premier status globally. We are pleased to welcome Gadens to Collins Street’s new pinnacle address and, as a law firm committed to positioning itself as a best practice organisation and employer of choice, we are confident Collins Arch will offer the best place to grow and demonstrate these commitments.

With construction progressing on site following demolition of the remaining structures and plaza, Urban Melbourne took the opportunity to discuss the project's conception with Cbus Property CEO Adrian Pozzo.

 Urban Melbourne: What was the appeal of the Collins Arch site to Cbus Property? What were the initial aspirations for the site and the role it can play within the city’s future?

Adrian Pozzo: It’s not often a landmark site such as this comes along. It’s a rare privilege to have a whole city block, but even rarer when it’s in one of the self-proclaimed premier streets of Australia. Collins Street is a premier location for head offices, retail flagships and the best of the best choose to locate themselves here.

It is also in the sweet spot of Melbourne’s legal precinct. With that in mind, we always believed our site had to be an example of the best this city could offer.

This is a globally significant address and we’ve ensured the design reflects that with the architectural collaboration of Woods Bagot and SHoP Architects. These are global firms who together bring a deep sense of Melbourne and premier global developments. As a mixed use site, with residential apartments, commercial office accommodation, a five-star hotel, retail and public spaces, Collins Arch will be a meeting point for local Melbournians and visitors alike.

With dual towers connected by a sky bridge, the very form of Collins Arch will be instantly recognisable and have a significant place on Melbourne’s skyline.

UM: Cbus Property’s recognition of the site’s significance became apparent when they invited architectural firms to compete in a design competition. What was the process for selecting the firms and the brief provided to the architectural teams?

AP: Cbus Property held a tender process, asking local architects to work together with an international partner in developing their concepts for the site. This was always going to be the most significant development project in Melbourne and we thought that a collaborative approach would make teams think outside the box.

There are some very exciting projects being built around the world and we believed Melbourne warranted the same design excellence.

Woods Bagot, already a globally respected architectural firm but with a particularly strong base in Melbourne, teamed with SHoP to come up with something we believe really is world class, both from an aesthetic and functional design perspective.

UM: What was it about the joint Woods Bagot and SHoP scheme that stood out from the other design teams?

AP: There was a real focus from the duo on functionality of design. They respected the southern views across the Yarra and Port Phillip Bay, as intrinsically Melbourne as it gets, and developed floor plans and concepts that resonated with what we wanted to achieve for the site. The credentials of both firms are well documented and working together, their plan for Collins Arch creates a real destination.

UM: Is it fair to say the current design is unlike anything seen in Melbourne before? Was this a design response to a unique site and constraints of the planning scheme controls? Do you see it as proof that the new controls still allow and possibly even encourage innovation?

AP: Melbourne’s skyline will change with this building and Collins Arch is certainly a daring design. I think it’s a culmination of a great team with a vision, and that vision being supported at a higher level with planning and urban design. If you look back at the building boom of the 80s and 90s, there was a definite lack of opportunity for projects like this to get over the line. I think timing is important.

Both the interim and proposed planning controls will continue to enable and encourage innovative design.

UM: Even as early as the 295m scheme there has always been a push to provide a significant component of public realm. Where did this desire come from?

AP: Melbourne is the world’s most livable city and we want it to stay that way. When you are introducing such an exciting development to a city, you want to be able to share that and have it benefit as many people as possible.

UM: Cbus Property has already signed on a number of tenants in Gadens, King & Wood Mallesons and HWL Ebsworth. Are there any other significant signings on the horizon?

AP: We believe this is Melbourne’s most enviable office address. This office tower will also be the city’s first WELL-rated office space, so there is definitely discussions occurring with a number of prospective tenants.

UM: What type of retail tenancies are expected within the project?

AP: There will be a mix of dining and shopping on offer at Collins Arch. As the development is in its infancy, we have not yet analysed the mix of retail tenancies.

UM: What has been the initial response in sales for apartments thus far?

AP: Initial interest has been very positive, as you would expect with such a landmark opportunity and location.

Construction of Collins Arch is expected to take head contractor Multiplex approximately three years

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