National Gallery of Victoria
130-200 St. Kilda Road, Southbank 3006.
- Built in 1962-7.
- Designed by Roy Grounds.
- Listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (no. H1499).
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) was the first part of the "Cultural Centre" plan conceived for Southbank in the 1950's that ultimately resulted in the construction of the NGV, Hamer Hall and the Victorian Arts Centre. Designed by Sir Roy Grounds, construction commenced in 1962 and the building opened in 1967.
The Brutalist exterior of the National Gallery of Victoria is made of heavy bluestone blocks that are only punctuated by two arched entranceways. A row of clerestory windows can be seen below the eaves of the building, which is surrounded by a moat.
A significant feature of the NGV is the "water wall" at the main entrance to the building that consists of a curtain of glass over which water is trickled. Also of note is the Great Hall which is illuminated by a massive stained-glass window ceiling and supported by narrow steel columns.
The rest of the interior was fitted out with Victorian timbers (principally Victorian Ash) and bush-hammered concrete. Three landscaped courtyards could be seen from most parts of the building and these provided light to the surrounding galleries.
A controversial redevelopment of the NGV commenced in 1999 and opened in 2003.
Designed by Italian architect Mario Bellini, in conjunction with Melbourne architects Metier 3, it retained elements of the basic design but inserted new galleries into the old courtyards. Most of the existing galleries were gutted and the custom-made furniture removed. The wood panelling, waffle ceilings, starburst light fixtures and galleries were so altered that they bear little resemblance to the original. Only public outcry prevented the removal of the Great Hall ceiling and the Water Wall.