What is significant?
The Former AMP Building was designed by Bates, Smart and McCutcheon and built in 1929-31. It is a ten storey, steel-framed building, with walls variously constructed of brick, reinforced concrete or terra cotta partition blocks. The brick walls of the Collins and Market Street frontages are clad with pink Casterton granite at the base and Sydney freestone above. A group of symbolic statues, executed in Sydney Freestone by Orlando Dutton, ornaments the main entrance on Collins Street. Other decoration includes reliefs of the Australian States' emblems on the ground floor window reveals.
How is it significant?
The Former AMP Building is of architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Former AMP Building is of architectural significance as an outstanding example of an inter-war period office building and of the work of Bates, Smart and McCutcheon. The building shows the influence of American high rise office design, and can particularly be compared with Americanised palazzo designs of McKim, Mead and White, H.R. Richardson and Louis Sullivan. The building's Renaissance revival style is rather conservative, as was much commercial building in Melbourne at the time. This conservatism probably appropriately reflected AMP's reputation as a solid, safe institution at a time when the Great Depression had wrought tremendous havoc amongst Australia's business and financial establishments. Nevertheless, beneath its conservative facade the building featured two remarkable innovations:a concealed panel heating system, the first of its kind in Australia, and adjustable steel slatted sun-blinds on the Collins Street and Market Street upper floor windows. The quality of the building's architecture was recognised soon after its construction, when it was awarded the fourth Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Street Architecture Medal in 1932. The building is a notable early work of Sir Walter Osborn McCutcheon (1899-1981), and the partnership Bates, Smart and McCutcheon. After WW2 the firm became Australia's experts in high rise office design, with McCutcheon's most important design being for the former ICI Building in East Melbourne.