The Rialto Towers (often The Rialto) is the second-tallest reinforced concrete building and the tallest office building in the Southern Hemisphere, when measured to its roof (several other skyscrapers in Australia are taller if their spires are included, as are some other structures in Australia such as communications masts and observation towers). Mounted atop the building is a 19 metre antenna, which does not count toward its overall height according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's Height to Architectural Top category. The building is located at 525 Collins Street, in the western side of the central business district of Melbourne, Australia.

The site of the Rialto Towers was occupied by Robb's Buildings, a grand classical styled 5 storey Victorian office building designed by Thomas Watts and Sons (and reputedly the tallest in the Melbourne City Centre in 1885) , and a 1920s building of the same size. The site was owned by the National Mutual Life Association. Located adjacent to the Rialto Building and the Winfield Building, both historic buildings dating from the late 19th century which formed part of a height limited uniform streetscape which continued to the site of the Rialto towers, the corner of King and Collins Streets. Little progress was made until 1980 when the site was acquired by Grollo Australia. Despite the structural integrity of Robb's buildings and objections by the National Trust of Victoria, Grocon argued that the retention of Robb's Buildings would spoil the effect of the proposed building and that as it would not integrate well with the new structure, the Rialto should have its own modern concrete and glass podium.

Robb's buildings were subsequently demolished opening the way for construction to begin on the Rialto. Designed by architects Gerard de Preu and Partners in association with Perrott Lyon Mathieson, the building was built between 1982 and 1986, opening in October 1986, and takes its name from the much older Rialto Building next door. The massive glass façade, its central feature, changes colour during the day, ranging from a trademark dark blue to a brilliant gold during sunset. It is 251 m (824 ft) high, with 63 floors and 3 basement floors. It comprises two conjoined towers, the shorter North Tower being 185 m high with 43 floors. In total, there are 84,000 m² of office space. Early tenants moved into the lower floors while the upper floors were still under construction in 1984. The Melbourne Observation Deck opened to the public on July 19, 1994 and is on the 55th floor of the South Tower, at 234 m. Views of up to 60 km can be had on a clear day. It is serviced by two express passenger lifts. However, it will close on December 31, 2009, to become a restaurant . There are 1,450 steps to the top of the building, which are the setting for a yearly Run Up race. In total there are 36 passenger lifts, 95km of lift cables and 706 lift door openings. 13,000 windows cover the outer surface of the building.

Relationship to other towers
At the time of its completion it was the 23rd tallest building in the world and the 2nd tallest outside of the United States (behind First Canadian Place in Toronto, Canada). As of October, 2008 it is the 6th tallest completed building in Australia and the 122nd tallest in the world. The Rialto Towers are a member of the World Federation of Great Towers since October 1994, and was inaugurated on 15 October 1985.

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Building Activity

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  • updated a digital reference
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