Public spaces are vital to the health of the city, its citizens and visitors.
Fed Square has evolved as a much valued civic space whose commercial tenants are both complementary to and subservient to the character, ambience and visual appeal of the Square. The discordant Apple building is contrary to these subtle values and will change the way the Square is perceived and used as it adds an overt commercial element. The behind-closed-doors process by Apple and the reluctant Cabinet demonstrates the motives of Apple to capitalise on the qualities of the Square for their commercial benefit, but their presence will diminish these qualities. Financial considerations and improved physical connection to the river are furphies. The important sense of enclosure gained by the Yarra Building will be lost. The Visitor Centre could occupy the Yarra Building.
Jim Holdsworth is an architect and urban designer, who has worked in Melbourne as a consultant and local government officer for over 40 years.