Knox City Shopping Centre
425 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South 3152.
- Built in 1977 with additions made in 1990 and 2003.
- Original design by McIntyre, McIntyre & Partners.
- "Building Award Medal" given to Peter McIntyre by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1978 for his design of Knox City Shopping Centre.
- Not listed on the Victorian Heritage Register
Tenders for the design of Knox City Shopping Centre were sought by the Australian Mutual Provident (AMP) Society in 1973. The winning firm was McIntyre McIntyre & Partners who designed a centre comprising some 341,200 square metres of retail space. Their Brutalist-style vision was for a concrete-clad shopping centre complete with an underground carpark for 250 cars and accomodation for Myer, Target, McEwan’s and 83 specialty stores.
When Knox City opened in 1977 it was described as looking “steadfast and isolated as an airport terminal” because the Wantirna of 1977 was still rural.
Much effort went into the design of the original Knox City by the architects and designers. The basic premise of the design philosophy was a continuity of appearance which was novel for a shopping centre in the 1970's. The architects wanted to avoid the eclectic range of fixtures, fittings and designs that were commonplace in other shopping centres. The result was a uniformity of fittings, colour schemes and signage throughout the complex. Whilst many of these features have long since been altered or removed, small vestiges of original features remain.
The Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) awarded architect Peter McIntyre the “Building Award Medal” for his design in 1978. The centre also won the IES Meritorious Lighting Award the same year. The RAIA applauded the then novel use of trapezoidal skylights to provide natural light in the mall (these remain intact near Myer), the brightly coloured fixtures, the configuration of the shops between Myer and Target and the “reeded” concrete cladding on the exterior.
The “reeded” concrete can still be seen on the oldest parts of the centre near Myer, but little else remains of the original centre after it was massively expanded and refurbished in 1990. Gone are the bright green zig-zag ceiling rafters, the bright blue balustrades, the multicoloured floor tiling and the uniform shopfronts. The giant tower on Burwood Highway – called a "dingus" by the architect for some obscure reason – remains intact but devoid of its fancy neon sign.
In 2003, the shopping centre was expanded again to include the former Knox Towerpoint complex to the east, which has since become "Knox Ozone" but remains as an essentially outdoor shopping space. Between 2003 and 2007, Knox City was Australia's largest shopping centre until Chadstone Shopping Centre re-claimed the honour following a refurbishment.