The Old Arts building at the University of Melbourne was built between 1919 and 1924 at a cost of seventy-one thousand pounds. Designed by Chief Architect of the Public Works Department, S C Brittingham, it was the last stone building to be constructed on the campus. It is located adjacent to the Old Quadrangle, and forms part of the central core of the University campus. The two storeyed complex is in a Tudor-Gothic style. The brick construction has bluestone footings, and the exterior, including buttresses, is clad in Kyneton freestone. A five-level castellated and turreted clock tower, containing the foundation stone laid in October 1921, rises above the Old Arts building and adjacent Old Quadrangle, to visually dominate the site. Its bell was cast by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, England and was installed in 1925.
The core of the Old Arts building consists a group of two storey lecture spaces with timber trussed hipped roofs with lanterns for top-lighting. Various materials are used on the roofs of the lectures halls, including corrugated iron, flat iron sheets, slates and bituminous felt. Flanking the lecture halls are the south, east and west elevations containing offices and tutorial rooms. These wings, with long gable roofs, have a series of projecting gables to each facade. The window openings are square-headed with chamfered reveals and drip moulds. The trefoil motif is repeated in the leadlight windows on both levels. The original lecture halls had steeply raked floors but many were converted during the post-war period to provide large flat floor lecture halls.
How is it significant?
The Old Arts building is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Old Arts building, with its tower, forms an important landmark defining the oldest precinct on the university campus. The inclusion of a tower reflected the original intention to include a tower in the unbuilt south wing of the Old Quadrangle. Architecturally, the Old Arts building draws its inspiration from the original university buildings, forming a coherent visual unit with them. It was the last stone building to be constructed on the campus and symbolises the historical association between the arts faculty, the earliest and largest school of university, with the Law Building and Quadrangle, the oldest building on the campus and where arts subjects were first taught.