Located at 41 Exhibition St, the new Melbourne offices for the Australian Institute of Architects were officially opened today [3 March] by Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Developed by the AIA, 41X is a 22-storey Five Star Green Star strata-titled commercial tower that accommodates the AIA’s Melbourne offices, including the Victorian Chapter, over five levels.

The building is the first strata commercial office building in Melbourne to target carbon neutrality over its 30 year operating lifespan – accounting for embodies energy, base building operational energy, transport and waste.

At the opening the Governor General said, “41X successfully shows how private and not-for-profit organisations can have a positive impact on the development of our cities by creating world class, cutting-edge, environmentally responsible commercial buildings.

“This elegant addition to Melbourne’s CBD makes a bold statement about the value of design. With this building, the Institute is strongly reinforcing the value of architects and architecture to the sustainable growth of our community – tangibly fulfilling its mission of ‘making the world a better place through architecture’.”

41X was conceived as a hub for architecture, where AIA members, the public and design enthusiates can meet.

On level 1 is a design haven with a comprehensive architecture and design bookshop (Architext) as well as a cafe run by Axil Coffee Roasters.

Additionally, the AIA is currently developing a program of public events focusing on architecture and design.

Situated on a small footprint block, 41X is at the corner of Exhibition St and Flinders Lane. It is also home to 15 other purchasers and tenants keen to be part of this exemplar building.

Dating back to 2006, the project first started with a detailed feasibility study of the site. It included a range of potential options for its future including renovation through to relocation.

The AIA National Council decided the site would be redeveloped into a small office tower that would set new standards in quality Australian commercial architecture.

A two-stage design competition was held in 2008 with Lyons Architects awarded the commission with a concept that explored ideas about the hybrid public/commercial building, the engagement of the AIA with the public and targeting a carbon-neutral outcome.

In 2012, following a rigorous selection process, Hassell was selected as architect for the fitout of the five AIA-occupied levels.

AIA national president Paul Berkemeier says, “We are immensely proud of our new Melbourne home. It is exemplary, small footprint, commercial building that shows how good design, sustainability and the work of architects can deliver outstanding results.”

Images: John Gollings