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MLC Building

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MLC Building
Beacon House


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
curtain wall
international style


commercial office


  • The MLC corporation did not occupy the entire building upon completion, but rather occupied the basement, the mezzanine, part of the ground floor and levels 8 and 9.
  • The building reaches a height of 132 feet (40.2 m) to top of roof; which at the time represented the highest a building was allowed in Adelaide.
  • Its construction challenged and changed many existing building regulations in South Australia as well as interstate.
  • This was the first skyscraper built in Adelaide following WWII.
  • This building was made a State Heritage site on September 11, 1986.
  • A grid of 3 feet 1.5 inches governed the design of the building, which was derived from the structural design system.
  • The MLC Building is the first in Australia to use full curtain wall construction, and it had a very refined steel frame structure for its time.
  • Jennifer Taylor, a respected author in urbanism states, "The degree of integration between the structure and services in MLC Adelaide arguably makes it a work of architecture of world significance".
  • One of Adelaide's first modern skyscraper's and the first use of glass curtain walling in the city. It was restricted to the 40m height limit, and the building is now heritage listed.
  • To celebrate the opening of the building, the local newspaper 'The News' included a special 12 page supplement with its evening edition.
  • In the years following its construction, the building was affectionately known in Adelaide as "the Glass Building".
  • The building was officially opened by the premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, in a ceremony celebrated on the building's second floor, followed by a buffet reception attended by the chairman of MLC, Sir Henry Manning and the principal architect, Sir Walter Osborne McCutcheon.
  • It is widely acknowledged amongst experts, that no other MLC building constructed in Australia during the 1950s reached the same level of sophistication as MLC Adelaide.
  • This building is regarded as a notable exponent of the Functionalist and International style of architecture by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.
  • This building employed lightweight, pre-fabricated (modular) technology, and it is regarded as the first and most sophisticated example of its building type and period in Australia.
  • A weather beacon was installed on the MLC building in Adelaide in June 1958 and, as was the case in Sydney and Melbourne, the companies displaying beacons produced a small pocket card explaining the system of signals indicating the forecast weather.
  • The building is significant as it introduced a new architectural style and method of construction to Adelaide, as well as the introduction of new building materials.
  • The MLC Building, an international style building was designed to reflect the company's progressive image, representing their modernity through technological innovation and functionalism.
  • This was the first fully air-conditioned skyscraper in Australia.

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More Information


181-190 Victoria Square
181-189 Victoria Square
South Australia

Technical Data

157.48 ft
157.48 ft
131.89 ft
115.16 ft
94.16 ft

Involved Companies

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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
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