Bates Smart has completed the refurbishment of Melbourne’s heritage listed ‘Equity Chambers’ building for Hilton, delivering the Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street.
Paying tribute to the past in character and acknowledging its place in the present with modern design techniques, the building features six new levels added above the existing precinct and partners with a 16-level tower at the rear, forming a 239 room hotel with 5 additional suites, fit with a stylish rooftop terrace, meeting spaces and premium food and beverage options.
Julian Anderson, Director, Bates Smart, says the new building does not step on the toes of the existing Equity Chambers site.
“The new building is a restrained and respectful response, providing an elegant backdrop to the existing building. Combining the overall geometry of the Trustees building; the new facade uses the latest construction technology to create gently curved profiles,” he says.
“It's a real journey of discovery – it’s about taking heritage and opening up a piece of grand Melbourne for everyone to explore.”
The porte cochere and entry reveal an illuminated, dynamic screen of bronzed metal and gold glass, complemented by two significant sandstone columns that echo the original neo classical design from the Bourke Street portico. On the wall opposite, a large, painted mural introduces guests to Melbourne’s famous laneway artwork.
“It’s such a Melbourne experience to create a discrete new beautiful entry tucked away that provides a surprising reveal upon arrival,” says Jeffery Copolov, Bates Smart’s Interior Design Director.
“When you arrive at the hotel lobby, you have arrived at everything that represents ‘Melbourne’.”
An inclined laneway leads to the hotel’s light filled reception, one level above Bourke Street. On arrival guests move into the heart of the hotel, with grand vistas overlooking a double height, activated dining space on the lower level, which features Luci, a premium eatery. The heritage lifts, stairs and lobby have been restored, and the new mezzanine guest lounge are all carved from the existing volumes of the former grand banking hall.
Copolov says many items found during the construction process were utilised in the restoration.
“We retained and restored a number of artefacts from the building excavation to bring our adaptive reuse philosophy to life,” says Copolov.
Significant restored elements include timber panelling, ceiling moulds, original lift cars and decorative metal work. Given that the site is heritage listed, there are many touches made by Bates Smart to ensure its rich history is not forgotten. Display cases enclosed with objects pay tribute to the history of the site, and names of employees on the original office doors remain. Particular attention is given to how each of the restored and new rooms feel by day and night, with a contemporary translation of glamorous 1930s interior detailing.
The Douglas Club, the standalone boutique art deco hotel bar that is accessible to the general public, is an extension of the respectfully classic design approach the practice has adopted throughout the building. Copolov says the hotel itself is a unique project compared to other hotels within Melbourne.
“It’s a very different design concept compared with other offerings in the CBD, bringing a more diverse and local hospitality feeling to this west end of town.
“A lot of the graphic motifs and pattern making, including upholsteries and carpet patterns have been inspired from the original façade.
“We wanted to introduce a graphic element that carried throughout the hotel and are interwoven through the spaces to continue the narrative.”
A private event space, overlooking the original portico includes a commissioned work by celebrated Melbourne artist David Lee Pereira, joining another facing the building outside celebrating Melbourne’s artistic laneway culture.
The fifth floor plays host to a brand new rooftop terrace complete with ‘Hilton’ in Broadway-esque signage, a tribute to Melbourne’s urban scene.
“This was a building that was lost to everyone. Today, Melbourne’s unique past and present come together with timeless elegance in a truly original hospitality development,” says Copolov.
To book your stay, or to find out more, click here.