University opens new $100 million life sciences complex in Melbourne’s biomedical precinct

Image of the exterior of the University's new life sciences building.
The University of Melbourne’s new $100 million life sciences building.

The University of Melbourne has opened a $100 million life sciences complex, offering Australia’s most sophisticated STEMM teaching laboratories and facilities and strengthening the global status of Melbourne’s biomedical precinct.

For the first time, the University will have staff and students from three faculties – Science; Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences; and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences – in one state-of-the-art life sciences building in Parkville.

The new complex underpins the University’s commitment to global excellence in life sciences teaching, learning, research and engagement, enabling a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching and learning.

The new building will facilitate international accreditation for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in 2020.

More than 700 students a day in the STEMM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine – fields will be learning in the new four-level, 6-star Green Star building on the corner of Tin Alley and Royal Parade. They will be using modern facilities and the latest sophisticated technologies which will substantially improve the student and teacher experience.

The building includes three large practical teaching laboratories, an object-based learning facility, three classrooms for small group and problem-based learning as well as informal learning and study spaces, all of which are dedicated to preparing the bioscientists, doctors and veterinarians of the future.

The laboratories are practical learning environments. The small group teaching spaces and the object-based learning facility are where students are challenged to build knowledge and explore and extend their understanding of materials, both real and virtual.

Victorian Minister for Higher Education Gayle Tierney joined University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell to open the building today. A traditional Indigenous smoking ceremony was conducted as part of the opening.

“The new complex allows the University of Melbourne to offer a premier teaching and learning experience and the best facilities in biosciences in our region. The building design, architecture and the resources available to students and lecturers is first class,” Professor Maskell said.

“We will be able to grow our Faculty of Science, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and continue to attract the leading students and lecturers to make a real difference in the life sciences fields globally.

“The building is a tremendous addition to the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.”

A microscope image of horse cartilage has been used in the building facade as part of the facility’s innovative design.

The complex, which incorporates a historical University building plus the new modern building, was designed by Hassell and built by Kane Constructions.

Key features of the life sciences building:

  • The project generated work for 190 subcontractors
  • 350,000 man-hours to build the complex
  • The building will lead to a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to a similar size and less modern building
  • 21,000 m3 of soil excavated during construction
  • The building will achieve a 6-star design rating, the first STEMM 6-star Green Star building for the University
  • Three large practical teaching laboratories, an object-based learning facility, three classrooms for small group and problem-based learning and informal learning and study spaces
  • The building sits beside the University’s System Garden which is a culturally important garden where plants are grouped together, dating back to the 1850’s
  • The building includes rain water harvesting and re-use, landscape irrigation from rainwater, high efficiency fittings and fixtures
  • Passive design initiatives include high performing glass facade, external shading and air tight construction, plus timber-lined walls and a sweeping timber staircase
  • The complex has a solar power system producing 140,000 kWh of solar energy a year – offsetting the power usage for mechanical ventilation, fans, fume cupboards and lifts