What is significant? The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building is located on a triangular area of land that was reserved for the National School Board in 1852. The Model and Training Schools, built between 1854 and 1856, was the first building to occupy the site. It was demolished after eighty years to allow for the construction of the new college in 1934.
Melbourne surgeon, Hugh Devine, was one of the original advocates for the formation of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and he was instrumental in obtaining the school site in Spring Street for the erection of their first headquarters in 1934. As founder, a foundation fellow, a member of council, and president in 1939-41, Devine had strong links with the college.
The College of Surgeons building was designed by architects Irwin and Stevenson, built by J.C. Taylor and opened in 1935 as the Australasian headquarters. The building, which provided the first permanent educational and administrative facilities for the college, was awarded the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Street Architecture Medal in 1937.
This monumental Greek Revival building is on a prominent site and is visible from all sides. The building sits on a sandstone plinth and is constructed of brown bricks set in a Flemish bond with bands of black header courses. The brickwork has been designed to form subtle horizontal bands and recessed panels. The windows, with their small panes and fine architraves, are also formed into vertical panels to balance the brick work bands. There is a string course at the first floor level. An elongated pedimented sandstone portico, with square shaft columns, enhances the unusually tall facade and was the gift of prominent physician, A E Rowden White.
The college building has had various sympathetic alterations, including the addition of the east and west wings to the rear in 1963. The 'Forest Landscape' fountain, by the Australian sculptor Stephen Walker, was completed in 1969. Cast of bronze and located in the courtyard, it is composed of a series of organic forms that evoke growth, plants, rocks and flowing water.
How is it significant?
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is of architectural, historical and archaeological and aesthetic significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is of architectural significance as an important example of the civic work undertaken by the architects Leighton Irwin and Roy Stevenson in a Greek Revival style, which was adopted for a number of commercial and institutional buildings in the 1920s and 1930s. The quality of this particular design was recognised in 1937 by the awarding of the Royal Victorian Architects' Street Architecture Medal.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is of historical significance as a building with strong and continuing associations with this institution. As one of Melbourne's principal institutions, it has played a long and pivotal role in the development of Victoria's medical profession.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is of historical significance for its association with well known Melbourne surgeon Sir Hugh Devine, and with Sir A E Rowden White, a prominent Melbourne physician and philanthropist.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is of aesthetic significance for the sculptural fountain 'Forest Landscape' designed by Stephen Walker. It is an outstanding and relatively early example of Walker's work in an organic style, and is his only public commission in Melbourne.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has archaeological significance for the below ground archaeological remains of the Model School built in the 1850s. The remains have a high potential to yield artefacts and other information about the school and its social history.