Melbourne’s Master Builder triumphs in historic CBD project

L.U. Simon Builders constructed the 16-storey Le Meridien 5-star Marriott hotel in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD on busy Bourke Street, surrounded by narrow laneways, 60 metres  from Parliament house.

In recognition of this feat, unparalleled in projects of this complexity, the builder was named Master Builder of the Year for its meticulous work reimagining the former site of the historic Palace Theatre – this is the third time the firm has been crowned Master Builder of the year.

To continue the winning streak, in September 2023, the project team won the Australian Institute of Building’s National Building Professional of the Year award and was similarly honoured, by the Victorian chapter – also for the third time.

A project of this magnitude, located in a heritage precinct, flagged significant challenges, so much so that some of the largest builders in the industry turned their backs on the project.

However, this is a challenge L. U. Simon relished. As pioneers in the industry the firm wanted to be part of the continual transformation of the city of Melbourne.

Senior Project Manager, Dennis L. Moschoyiannis says, “Significantly, we developed a build methodology that satisfied the Melbourne City Council sufficiently to let us demolish the former Palace Theatre.

“It helped that we had 60 years of local knowledge to convince stakeholders that the job could be built and that it would be built with minimal disruption to the adjacent Princes Theatre and public transport network.

“To dig 12 metres underground, required specific rigs, equipment and even a mining conveyor-belt to remove over 5000 trucks worth of material through the CBD, this was trammelled by a landlocked building, a heritage façade, public protection orders, neighbouring outdoor dining, one way traffic and busy tram network, not to mention over 120 protests at nearby Parliament House as well as impromptu city closures during construction.

“We also like to acknowledge our key design consultants, Peddle Thorp, JBA, Northrop and Marriott Design. This job would not have been a success without a devoted team providing not only professional but also practical services from start to finish.”

The firm commenced construction in November 2020, between Melbourne’s second and  third lockdown and completed the build in October 2022, a year after the city’s sixth lockdown – handing over the project three weeks before its scheduled delivery.

“Opened in March this year, the venue is already touted as one of the city’s most popular hotel destinations.

Established in 1955 by Professor Leo Simon, L.U. Simon Builders is responsible for more than $12 billion in major projects across the commercial, industrial, institutional and residential sectors.

“The Victorian building and construction sector continues to push ahead on a path of success,” added Geoff Purcell, President, General Contracting Sector Committee, Master Builders Association, Victoria.

“The scope of work is tremendous. The outcomes for consumers continue to be spectacular.”

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