How does one of Australia’s oldest and most respected law firms design and build a new office befitting its reputation and legacy?

Completed this year, the prestigious law firm Cornwalls engaged McCormack and Studio 103 to design and develop a new office and floorplan that occupied 2,100 square metres over three connected buildings.

A mix of heritage and new architecture, the three buildings spoke to Cornwalls’ deep connection to Melbourne and the very origins of the firm over 130 years ago. Comprised of 90 Queen Street, 380 Collins Street and 100 Queen Street, the significant footprint enabled us to consider the past, present and future of the firm, developing a design language that represented the ideals and philosophy of the company in wonderfully apt surrounds.

The Queen and Collins precinct, with its beautiful Gothic arches and atrium spaces, gave the design team an excellent opportunity to connect what would otherwise be an ad-hoc amalgamation of buildings and create a beautiful and consistent design vocabulary that would permeate the entire space.

Elegant, tailored and defiant.

380 Collins Street stands proud on Melbourne’s prestigious street. The Gothic Bank was built in 1887 and is considered one of Australia’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. Working with its grand interiors, the team was given a chance to explore juxtaposition and contrast, letting modern materials, surfaces and media sit alongside the impressive 19th-century structure – the distinction a mark of respect to the company’s history while looking wholeheartedly towards the future. The new materiality of the interiors merges with the building’s original construction style coming together to form a new typology sensitive to the structure it finds itself in and the task ahead of it.

The 380 Collins Street building is home to the executive client floor, and all front-of-house areas, including reception, boardroom, meeting rooms and innovation lab. In addition, a café space has been designed with double duty in mind; the central island bar, with its metal fin detail, acts as a centrepiece for cocktail parties and events.

Now for something unique.

Inside the café’s prep kitchen, a non-descript shelf houses a secret. A gentle pull on a wooden spoon reveals a hidden bar, a place to find yourself at the end of the day, mix a drink, unwind and divulge. Featuring a green marble wall and bronze detailing, beautiful integrated lighting completes the illusion of a prohibition speakeasy.

Working with Cornwalls gave the team the chance to go above and beyond the usual design and construction project. The central, blue-chip property was just a jumping-off point for the project, an opportunity to speak to the firm’s history as Australia’s oldest law firm, but more than that it was a chance to embody Cornwalls’ philosophy and values in a physical space, one that not only speaks of the past and present but one that exemplifies and outlines their path to the future. A place where the people and community that have shaped the firm are empowered to be the best they can be.

McCormack would like to extend a special thanks to the talented group of people that made this project a reality. From Cornwalls Law and their very own team who collaborated with great ideas to Studio 103, who helped align the design to its rich heritage. Furthermore. we’re grateful to have worked hand-in-hand with the likes of Compass Engineering, Cushman and Wakefield, and Elevli Plus from the beginning to delivery.

We’d like to thank the McCormack delivery team lead by Lauren McCormack; Stewart Bowman, Amal Iharkachen, Kris Cabanela, Bechir Lammam, Freshta Hussaini, Christian Lynas and all the hardworking tradesmen.

We’d also like to thank our wonderful subcontractors, suppliers and consultants;

ABI Interiors Pty Ltd
Airport Commercial Joinery
Alirock Group Pty Ltd
Atmos-phy Pty Ltd
Aurecon Australia Pty Ltd
Communications & Electrical Services Pty Ltd
Create Workspace Unit Trust
Danielle Weber of Danielle’s Artwork
District Australia Pty Ltd
Dormakaba Australia Pty Ltd
E-Living Furniture
En Gold
Entire Fire Protection
FOS Lighting Pty Ltd
Harvey Norman Commercial Project Division
Interia Design Pty Ltd ATF
Jardan Australia Pty Ltd
JB Painting (Bendigo) Pty Ltd
Living by Design
Masterbuy Pty Ltd trading as top3 by design
Melbourne Shutters and Blinds
Miller Signs
PMT Security Systems Pty Ltd
Prime Technology Solutions Pty Ltd
Pro Air Systems Pty Ltd
Project Plumbing & Maintenance Pty Ltd
Rove Concepts
Schiavello (VIC) Pty Ltd
First Flooring
Sustainable Access Floor Solutions Pty Ltd
Temple & Webster
UCI Projects