Some of Melbourne’s Historic and Iconic Architecture.
The complex features a large steel spire with a wrap-around base.
The original spire envisaged by Roy Grounds was 115 metres tall and because of its complexity was one of the first structures in Australia to rely on computer-aided-design (CAD). After significant public controversy, political inquiry and financial reassessment, the spire was completed by the Minister for the Arts, Norman Lacy, installing the lightning conductor rod at its pinnacle on 20 October 1981.
By the mid-1990s, signs of deterioration became apparent on the upper spire structure, and the Arts Centre Trust decided to replace the spire. The new spire was completed in 1996, and reaches 162 metres, though it is still based on Grounds’ original design. The spire is illuminated with some 6,600 metres (21,653 feet) of optic fibre tubing, 150 metres (492 feet) of neon tubing on the mast and 14,000 incandescent lamps on the spire’s skirt. The metal webbing of the spire is influenced by the billowing of a ballerina’s tutu and the Eiffel Tower.
A wedge-tailed eagle and peregrine falcon were utilised in early 2008 to deter groups of sulphur-crested cockatoos from damaging the spire’s electrical fittings and thimble-sized lights.
On 1 January 2012 the spire was accidentally set afire by New Year’s Eve fireworks. Two sides of the structure were set ablaze by fireworks that apparently discharged improperly, causing flaming debris to fall to the ground. The fire burned for about forty minutes, causing only cosmetic damage to the tower.