rulesThe building was originally the Russell Street Telephone exchange and Post Office being the first postwar government building of any size completed after 1945. In 1999 the building was converted into a variety of differing boutique apartments with retail at the ground and basement levels. Works were completed in 2001. The sustainable renovation and add-on concept was the work of well known Melbourne architect, Nonda Katsalidis.

  • 114-120 Russell Street, north-east corner of Russell and
    Little Collins Streets
  • 1948-54 Commonwealth Dept. of Works
  • Hammond and Allan (bas-relief sculpture)
  • 1999 Nonda Katsalidis (Hero Apartments conversion)

The Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office marked a crucial stylistic shift between pre- and postwar attitudes to the metropolitan
public buildings.

Construction took five years, with the result that its interlocking cubic design, projecting glazed panels and cream brick appeared dated when it was finally completed in 1954. Another exchange at 378 Flinders Lane (1952-54) follows a similar compositional palette.

Unusually, the Russell Street building combined a postal hall at ground level, the interior design of which echoed 1930s Italian Modernism. (See Historic photos to the side.) Features included a dashing striped floor, smart metal grill work, stainless steel telephone booths (since removed) and three massive pink granite stylized Doric columns.

Outside a bas-relief sculpture mounted on the cream brick wall above the footpath was a mannered ornamental inclusion beneath large first- and second-floor glazed panels that, in functionalist fashion, revealed the machinery of the exchange within. As the exchange is located on Russell Hill, in 1956 the building gained special status by briefly serving as a relay station for newly arrived television.