Designed by American architects, Welton Becket & Associates in association with Leslie M Perrot & Partners, the Southern Cross Hotel and shops, completed in 1962, was of State significance as the largest and perhaps the best known example of the decorative Modernist architectural style of the 1950s and 1960s known in Australia as Featurism, a style first identified and much disliked by the architectural writer Robin Boyd.
The Southern Cross was the first city development to emulate the large new shopping malls in the suburbs, with its courtyard lined with shops and underground car parking, and among the first to employ the horizontal low-rise podium and tower block combination.
The podium includes the original bowling alley, built during the first wave of bowling alleys in the early 1960s and was the only example in the inner city.
The Southern Cross was the first modern international hotel in Melbourne and was associated with the post war jetset and notions of American style. It was also a social landmark for many years as a premier venue for functions, and noted for the calibre of its guests including the Beatles who stayed there in 1964.
Major internal renovations in c.1974 and in recent years have diminished the significance, but some important interiors remain, especially the Club Grill and the Tavern Bar. The exterior was painted in 1992, but this change is reversible.
The Southern Cross is also a reminder of the extent of the Eastern Market reserve which had been a Melbourne landmark since its construction in the era of the International exhibitions of the 1880s.
Closed in 1995, after a failed bid to have it listed by Heritage Victoria, the Hotel was demolished in 2003 to make way for a new office complex.