Jetset flight of fancy on an architectural high

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Robyn Ironside – Aviation Writer

Originally published in The Australian, June 10th 2019

Image by Peter Clarke

The vision of billionaire philanthropist Paul Little for a private jet base that was second to none has landed the Melbourne facility in the running for a Victorian Architecture Award.

Built over five years at a cost of almost $100 million, Melbourne Jet Base captures the “art of flight” in its design, with a swooping wing-shaped roof.

Chief executive Murray Rance said it was Mr Little’s ambition to create a facility that was very Australian and that Melbourne could be proud of.

He said Cox Architects delivered on all accounts.

“When you spend the amount of money that people do on these jets, you expect a certain level of service so we treat (the jet base) like a six-start hotel,” Mr Rance told The Australian.

“You pull up to a beautiful concierge, you’ve got customs on side, you’ve got a wonderful reception, hosts that meet you.

“It’s a very seamless process for them to go through the facility.”

There is even a bedroom suite on site with two ensuites for the jet set who don’t want the hassle of going to a hotel.

“We have lots of dignitaries come through that want their private space” Mr Rance said.

“We’ve got 37 exclusive car bays underneath so people can arrive anonymously.

“Then they make their way to the aircraft in luxury, without anyone knowing”

Designed to accommodate the largest private jets on the market, like the Bombardier Global 8000, the base has its own 30,000-litre mobile fuel tanker and maintenance hangar.

Since its opening last September, the Melbourne base has hosted between 150 and 200 aircraft a month from as far away as Europe, China and the US.

Cox Architecture director Andrew Tucker said it had been exciting to work on such a unique design project.

“Who doesn’t want to work on an international private jet terminal? These aren’t things we build every day of the week,” Mr Tucker said.

As well as being opulent functionality was one of the main considerations for the designers.

“The real challenge was trying to implement a fairly powerful and interesting design idea with some fairly rigid briefing components around aircraft arrivals, custom facilities and the complicated technical aspects of a hangar,” Mr Tucker said.

The award winners will be announced on June 28th.


To read more on Melbourne Jet Base, click here.