National Heritage Places - Orica House (formerly the ICI Building)



Once Australia's tallest building, the ICI Building in East Melbourne (now Orica House) was at the forefront of the high-rise boom in Australia's cities in the second half of the 20th century.

Orica House was included in the National Heritage List on 21 September 2005.


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Orica House (formerly the ICI Building) followed the international trend for multi-storey buildings, which came out of the United States. The move from low to high-rise office buildings changed the profile, shape and landscape of Australia's major urban centres forever.

Reaching new heights

Built between 1955 and 1958, the ICI Building was one of 22 major new multi-storey office buildings that sprang up in Melbourne in the second half of the 1950s. Its 21 storeys exceeded the previous legal limit of 11 to 12 storeys, resulting in Melbourne becoming the first Australian city to change its height limits. It was not until 1962 that the first tall building was completed in Sydney. In earlier times most Australian office buildings occupied their entire blocks. However, the modern freestanding high-rise and its surrounding landscaped gardens and car park introduced the idea of creating a balance between a building's height and public amenities.

Australian architecture in the 20th century

Australia's fashions in architecture and engineering have been influenced by overseas trends since European settlement began in 1788. In the 20th century, traditional architectural boundaries were challenged and new ways of doing things explored. Architecture from this period, both in Australia and overseas, bears testament to this time of experimentation.

In the late 20th century architects, engineers and planners in Australian capital cities were among the first to find and introduce innovative architectural ways of expressing community, corporate and business optimism, in both private and government sector projects. This transformation gained momentum as Australia emerged from the Depression and two world wars.

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