The university is turning its face to the city.

The ghosts of campuses past haunt RMIT’s prime corner of Swanston and Franklin Streets. Three modernist concrete block buildings completed in 1972 stand sentinel, their backs turned to the street. As drab Melbourne buildings go they are hard to beat. That they sit among some of our most avant-garde architecture – Lyons’ spikey SAB, Sean Godsell’s jewel-box Design Hub, and ARM’s cleaved gem Storey Hall – merely accentuates the anachronism. Perhaps their strongest counterpoint is Edmond and Corrigan’s Building 8, a playful postmodernist castle to their blank forbidding fortress.

Just as significantly, they represent one of the last remnants of a 30-year transformation that has seen RMIT turn itself inside out. Where once the campus adopted the august model of the reclusive sanctuary to higher learning by facing inward to Bowen Street, its architecture now embraces Swanston Street.

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words by Ray Edgar