Plan to save the Nicholas Building in Melbourne: details

When the sale of the building was announced, a campaign to save it was launched, resulting in petitions, donations and the creation of a foundation. Now, a year later, a plan is ready. The three-part partnership has raised more than 75 percent of the resources needed to purchase the building. On Thursday, the group announced their vision for what comes next.

The new plan involves preserving the artistic core of what makes the Nicholas Building what it is, while also revitalizing parts of the building and opening it to the public. This includes a new glass pavilion to be built on the roof, a green space open to the public – bringing the old ballroom back to life.

Opening up these spaces will allow the building to accommodate more events and performances, and to partner with festivals, making it “a flexible multi-arts venue in the center of the city,” Vacirca says. “The entire building will not only become a creative engine room for production, but also a metabolic platform.”

He emphasizes that even if the building opens, it would be a priority to preserve the Nicholas building’s character and community. “Part of that vision that we have is also to ensure that individual tenants continue to have their autonomy, and the fact that they can just close the door and create that great work.”

Further plans for the roof include a potential community garden and looking at how to bring more natural light into the building. Vacirca also points out the organizations that, due to the development of the NGV’s contemporary gallery, will move from their current location as potential new tenants.

The triple partnership is a mix of private, government and philanthropic investments. Under this model, Forza Capital would buy and own the building, and the foundation would keep the lease for levels two to nine, starting for 15 years, as Vacirca explains. So what needs to happen for the plan to become a reality?

Jason Patterson in his Nicholas Building studio.Credit:Eddie Jim

“We need the state” [government] to step in and say, ‘Yes, we are willing to stand behind this, and we will support this deal,’ Vacirca says. “Which essentially means they have to come up with an amount they want to contribute.”

When contacted by The age On the proposal to join the consortium, a government spokesperson said: “Only a Labor government will help Victoria’s creative industries and we will continue to look for ways to best support tenants, such as those in the Nicholas Building.” , while balancing the needs and priorities of creatives across the country.”


For Vacirca, this battle is personal. He has been a tenant in the Nicholas Building since he was in his twenties and although his art has taken him all over the world, “I always come back to that room,” he says. When asked why it is so important to continue the fight, his answer boils down to community and the sharing of ideas and creativity. “It has just managed to continue to operate and function as a creative space and provide a vitality and inner-city culture that otherwise, quite frankly, does not exist.”

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