Francis Ormond Building refurbishment

Photo: The heritage-listed Francis Ormond Building is the first home of RMIT, formerly known as the Working Men’s College.

The heritage-listed Francis Ormond Building is the first home of RMIT, formerly known as the Working Men’s College.

Photo: The Gothic Revival features of the Francis Ormond Building will be retained.

The Gothic Revival features of the Francis Ormond Building will be retained.

  • Address
  • Project overview
  • Project update
  • Project timeline
  • Consultants
  • Address

    124 La Trobe Street, City campus

    Project overview

    The heritage-listed Francis Ormond building – Building 1 – is the cornerstone of RMIT University. Founded in 1887, the Francis Ormond building was the first home of RMIT, originally known as the Working Men’s College. The Francis Ormond Building is also listed as a 'notable building' in the Melbourne City Council planning scheme.

    Read more about the history of the Francis Ormond Building.

    The 123-year-old Building 1 is the corporate headquarters of RMIT and is the home to Chancellery and the International and Development portfolio.

    The 3,700m2 Building 1 is being completely refurbished and all of its facilities will be upgraded but its beautiful Gothic Revival façade will be retained.

    Building Features

    • Sustainable design features
      • rainwater harvesting for garden irrigation /solar hot water generation
      • increased building fabric thermal insulation with the roof replacement works
      • waste management system
      • intelligent lighting controls and systems;
      • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Chemicals) paints, carpets and finishes
    • Open, glazed stairway and galleries
    • Passenger lift
    • Staff function room
    • North-facing courtyard overlooking student and staff lawn
    • Reintroduction of period features

    The future University Lawn that is being developed will flank the Building 1 outdoor courtyard.

    University Lawn features

    • 250 m2 lawn
    • Two-row avenue of deciduous trees, aligned with Building 1 trees
    • 4.5-metre-wide timber deck
    • Seating wall and garden bed with low planting
    • Outdoor café zone on timber deck
    • Integrated seating along west deck walkway with steps to University Way
    • Underground water tanks under lawn
    • Refurbishment of existing embankment planting
    • Screen hedge to full side of basketball court
    • Eastern row of trees to be planted in the lawn

    Project update

  • June – August 2010
  • January – May 2010
  • September – December 2009
  • August 2009
  • October 2008 – March 2009
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • May 2008
  • June – August 2010

    The refurbishment of the Francis Ormond Building is now complete. RMIT University staff have moved back into Building 1 in early August.

    January – May 2010

    Constructions works are well advanced with the project scheduled for completed in early July 2010.

    September – December 2009

    Significant works have been undertaken on the Francis Ormond Building’s lift shaft, concrete works, rough-in services and structural steel installation. As at the end of 2009, the Francis Ormond Building is scheduled for completion in July, 2010 with staff to take occupation of the building at the end of August, 2010.

    August 2009

    Roof works are nearing completion and the foundations for the ground levels are almost finished. Work on the new passenger lift pit has also begun.

    October 2008 – March 2009

    Major demolition works are now generally complete and the roof works have begun.

    September 2008

    The Francis Ormond Building is one of four RMIT buildings that will be floodlit in pink lights as part of the University’s involvement in the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Global Illumination event, which precedes the official launch of the global Breast Cancer Awareness month.

    The Bowen Street-facing façade of the Francis Ormond Building, the Magistrate’s Court entrance foyer and the Francis Ormond statue will glow pink every evening of the week starting Monday, 22 September. The entrance to Bowen Street via La Trobe Street and Buildings 2, 3 and 4 will also be illuminated.

    August 2008

    Works continues in earnest within the Francis Ormond building. Hoarding has been placed around the Bowen Street-facing entrance to Building 1 and large-scale signage promoting the building’s refurbishment was erected on the hoarding in time for Open Day, which ran on Sunday, 10 August.

    May 2008

    The Francis Ormond building (RMIT Building 1) has been added to the Register of the Victorian Heritage Council. The Victorian Heritage Register lists the State’s most significant heritage places and objects. The Heritage Council of Victoria determines what places and objects are included in the Victorian Heritage Register and only those places and objects considered to be of outstanding significance are added to the Register.

    A construction compound has been set up behind Buildings 1 and 3 and there will be an increased level of activity for the works in Building 1 from this month onwards.

    Project timeline

    Start date

    May 2008

    Expected completion date

    July 2010

    Occupation date

    31 August, 2010



    Peter Elliot Architecture + Urban Design

    RMIT Project Manager

    Ronan Walsh and Liz Davies

    Clerk of Works

    John King

    Manager, Client Relations

    David Howard

    Building Surveyor

    BSGM Consulting Pty Ltd

    Quantity Surveyor

    Simon Wragg & Associates

    Main Contractor

    Kane Constructions

    [Next: Gallery 1: Historic images and before and after photos ]