Potential Melbourne Apple store opposed by building preservationists

“One of Melbourne’s finest examples of art deco architecture from the 1930s looks set to be knocked down to make way for an iconic new Apple Store,” Asher Moses reports for The Age. “Lonsdale House, on Lonsdale Street near Caledonian Lane, will be bulldozed to make way for a new CBD shopping centre as part of the redevelopment of Myer.”

“The shopping centre, which will be called Emporium Melbourne, has been given the green light by the Victorian State Government,” Moses reports.

“Darren Steinberg, head of property at developer Colonial Global Asset Management, confirmed that the company was in talks with Apple over the iPhone maker becoming the flagship tenant,” Moses reports. “An Apple store appeared as the hero store in the artist’s interpretation of the completed project, and Colonial has already leased retail space to Apple in Melbourne’s Chadstone and Sydney’s Chatswood Chase shopping centres.”

Robin Grow, president of the Art Deco & Modernism Society, vehemently opposes the development, which is scheduled to be completed by Christmas 2012 and will include 240 shops,” Moses reports. “Grow said Lonsdale House needed to be saved to preserve Melbourne’s cultural heritage… ‘[Lonsdale House] is not heritage listed on the state register but it was listed as grading B by the City of Melbourne on their planning scheme and it was part of the heritage overlay,’ Grow said. ‘Morally they [the council] had an obligation to protect the building … and they just rolled over and wouldn’t protect it.'”

Full article here.

18 Comments

  1. I check with some Aborigines regarding cultural heritage preservation. They preferred the trees/rocks that were there before the art deco building but said an Apple Store would be fine too.

  2. I’m NOT with Apple on this one, although I like their design for a new building.

    The existing building, Lonsdale house, is actually quite a beautiful building with some interesting elements and details. The street level is a complete wreck, from what I could see from the few photos posted. If the building were restored to some extent and Apple’s architects worked with the existing structure it could be quite striking.

    Check out the web site:
    http://www.savelonsdalehouse.com/

    There was a building on West 34th Street (across from the Empire State Building), that Apple had considered as a store location. It was a real New York, 1890’s-ish brick loft building, with some great cast iron details. Of course, it was knocked down and some generic piece of trash built in it’s place.

    When I was a kid, huge areas of Downtown Boston (Beacon Hill area) were leveled to build the Government Center. It was a real shame in many ways.

    There’s a lot to be said for preserving unique buildings!

  3. Everyone is all for preservation, especially with someone else’s money. None of these “preservationists” ever want to spend their own money. No, let the tax payer ante up to save some old trash (or Steve Jobs and his old house he is trying to replace). Hey, I thought change was good. Tear it down…

  4. Melbourne’s beautiful buildings deserve to be kept. But this is just a media beatup. If you read the articles, an Apple store was used in the architectural mockups as the anchor tenant, but Apple have not committed to leasing the property and in fact the leasing documents haven’t even been drawn up yet. The building is not owned by Apple – in fact it is owned by an Australian company – and at worst, Apple would be a tenant.

    Like so much in the “news” these days, this story is just a beat-up. Apple is involved only because an architect thought they’d look cool in some drawings. How this became home-page news at theage.com.au and why it’s appearing here, I don’t understand.

  5. I agree with taxi. “Apple” appears 17 times in the story, yet their role in the development seems just this side of vaporous. Being “in talks with Apple” could mean anything. Yet, Apple makes the headline. It’s just media business–nothing to know here…

  6. 1/240th of this set of shops will be an Apple store (they are only in talks, nothing in writing even). Not exactly like Apple is steamrolling over Melbourne’s CBD here.

  7. I really wonder about this one. I was on a cruise and my iBook needed a new drive. I was in Melbourne and looked for an Apple Store – there was none. But there was a very large, flashy ticked out store selling Apple gear for all the world looking like an Apple store. It was a reseller, of course. They were doing a land office business and were very, very expensive. I did not get my repair done at those prices.
    So I wonder, who in Melbourne would really like to not have an Apple store there??

  8. ron, your post is do disrespectful of Melbourne.

    They may not have older buildings there, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have “history”. Any town does, even if it’s ten years old.

    It is right to keep some sense of history, and Art Deco is definitely historical – nobody’s building Art Deco buildings any more! If we tear them all down, that period in history is just reduced to old photos, nobody will have a real sense of what it was like.

    Couldn’t they move it to a nearby location and keep it?

  9. Time out guys. Apple is not building anything in Melbourne at this time. Apple has expressed interest in locating in a mall that is to be built in Melbourne. The Mall company has decided that where they want to build includes land that this house stands on. They are the mall builders. not Apple. Apple is a tenant of the mall, not the owner. They don’t have a dog in this fight.

  10. Some countries have very recent history… not a good reason enough to be short in respecting some well done and unique buildings.
    Young countries may also grow with some culture…

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