HERO recognised for heritage

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood was keen to accept an invitation on July 4 to “unveil” a heritage plaque at the HERO Apartment Building, formerly the Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office on July 4.

Cr Wood said: “Recognising and honouring our much-loved heritage buildings is part of what makes Melbourne a great place to live, work and play.”

“We’re proud of our past and have an incredible future ahead of us with the City of Melbourne’s daily population set to hit 1.4 million people per average weekday by 2036.”

“To put this in perspective back in 1954, when the Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office was completed, the population of greater Melbourne was 1.4 million.”

“The Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office has a fascinating history and I’m thrilled that people walking past will be able to learn its origins by the plaque we’re unveiling this evening.”

The building was designed by the Commonwealth Department of Works in 1948. Materials were in short supply after WWII so it took a while to build with the finishing touches applied in 1954.
It was the first significant public building constructed after the war with architectural influences from European modernism, especially the Amsterdam School and Scandinavian Freestyle Classicism.
It hosts a bas relief sculpture on the front wall made by two highly regarded Melbourne sculptors of the 1950s, Hammond and Allan and has marble floors, vertical glass walls and large pink granite columns. It is said to be the first airconditioned post office in Australia.
In the late 1990s this grand public building, after it had served much of Melbourne’s communications needs of the time, was transformed into the HERO Apartment Building by the renowned local architect Nonda Katsilidis.
It is now a very different place, but it remains very unusual, very special in the city. It has 150 distinctive apartments with cafes, restaurants and retail along the street and in the basement.
It houses many and varied folk from all over. Families of up to three generations, students, couples, singles of all ages all live at HERO and love it. Some rent long-term, others come for short-stays in various forms of accommodation and arrangements. Others have invested in HERO and want it to flourish.
The chair of the HERO owners’ committee, David Loader, welcomed Cr Wood’s interest and support.
“HERO shares the city’s commitment to the sustainability of the building, its historic and modern attributes, its welcoming community, liveability and safety,” Mr Loader said.
“These are what make HERO special, contributing as good citizens should to the fabric of Melbourne with its sense of community and reputation as one of the most liveable cities on the planet.”
“We appreciate that the City of Melbourne and others have been productive partners with us. We have solar on our roof, public art on our front facade, worm farms in our car park, LED lighting in common areas, plants and art in our back lane.”
“We have made recent changes to security to make us safer. Our plans and initiatives do not stop there. We will keep on keeping HERO special,” Mr Loader said.

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