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Building From The Past, For Our Future

Kelly Salance

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Considered the heart of the city, Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) has long been home to a vibrant ecosystem of businesses and shops. On a daily basis, the CBD hums with cultural sights, historic architecture, and delicious bites to eat. Nestled in this mile stretch of prestigious boutiques and historical Victorians sits our Zendesk Australian headquarters at 395 Collins Street in Melbourne. Our office is one of many that decorates the CBD street today. Yet, over the years, the building has long remained a staple of Melbourne’s blue-ribbon business boulevard, and has gone through several life cycles in it’s 126 year history.

In 1869, the National Mutual Life Association set its sights on the corner of Collins Street and Queen Street and held a competition for designs of a new building. They received proposals from 43 architects, and chose the Australian and British firm, Wright Reed and Beaver of Adelaide, which completed a 10-story building in 1892. The Gothic Revival style building was refurbished in 1983 and became home to the Bank of New Zealand Australia.

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Fast-forward a few decades later, and much of Collins’s Street 19th century charm is still intact. In November of 2015, when Zendesk took over the space, we worked to maintain many original features as part of the building’s historic preservation. Much like our previous office renovations, we tried to preserve the authenticity of the building while introducing Zendesk’s modern aesthetic to achieve a unique hybrid of heritage gothic with an updated clean feel. The lower ground floor, complete with the original bank vault doors, has been fully equipped as an event space and is available for use by the local technology community and our non-profit partners. It is common to see the space filled with female coders sharing a Girl Geek Dinner or employees enjoying morning tea provided by the social enterprise STREAT.

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When you walk through the arches inside 395 Collins Street today, you will see the ceiling’s original plaster beam, panel system and free standing Corinthian columns, but now, you will also see people bustling around wearing and using the latest technology. As we root ourselves in a historic piece of Melbourne that is exactly what we aim to do, be part of a community deeply connected to its past while confidently moving into its future.