Building brighter futures

19 Feb 2019

The idea behind the design

The heart of UQ’s Engineering and Computing Precinct at St Lucia is about to change forever with the construction of a new education hub that will shape and nurture the next generation of designers, thinkers and engineers.

The Andrew N. Liveris Building will stand 11 storeys high and will be the new home of chemical engineering and the Liveris Academy, where researchers, students and industry leaders will come together to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

It was made possible thanks to a multimillion-dollar donation from UQ Alumnus and Global Business Leader Andrew N. Liveris and his wife, Paula Liveris. Their generosity has funded an innovative space, purposely designed to create a home for culture and collaboration.

The building was designed by architect firms Lyons and m3architecture, who wanted to create a physical environment and identity that would allow the School and the Academy to excel in areas of strength and build on weaknesses.

“We have proposed an architectural design that will become a powerful ‘culture builder’ for the School, expanding its traditions of connectivity through a unique horizontal and vertical integration within a compact building footprint,” m3architecture’s Michael Christensen said.

“Outwardly, the building is open and transparent with a sense of shared discovery by ‘doing’ engineering and experimenting together.

“Inwardly, it is intense and focused.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering ranked number one in Australia in the 2018 QS World University Rankings. With a new collaborative and inspirational space like the Andrew N. Liveris Building, the possibilities for the School are endless.

“Everything about this latest addition to the UQ St Lucia landscape has been methodically planned and purposefully developed to allow students, staff, industry and researchers to steer the engineering breakthroughs that will help change the world for the better,” he said.

The features – a homage to the past

The attention to detail in this design goes beyond functionality and learning spaces. Architects have purposely designed a structure that captures the best parts of UQ’s iconic Great Court, while also creating what they’re calling the green “learning landscape” in the heart of the precinct. They have chosen to pay homage to the sandstone and granite that UQ is known for, while reflecting a popular chemical engineering process.

“The building’s main external visual element is the glass facade which evolves the campus traditions of sandstone to a glass building, through the idea of turning sand into refined glass using the process of chemical engineering,” Mr Christensen said.

“The glass facade is a variety of colours, being a contemporary reference to the sandstone of the Great Court. Its patterning is in response to the requirements of concealment, ventilation, sun control and identifying social activities behind the facade.”

The building’s atriums also reflect the Great Court’s shape and geometry, a move architects made in an attempt to capture the role it plays in social life at St Lucia.

“At the lowest level of the atrium, the geometry of the Great Court is utilised in the buildings internal plan form, with the central portion of the space conceived as a landscape social space. The corners of the atrium open into student learning spaces and external social balconies in a similar manner to the Great Court.”

The predecessor – a history of Frank White

While the University prepares to make way for the Andrew N. Liveris Building, it will say farewell to the long-standing Frank White Building, which first opened its doors more than 25 years ago. It was formally the home of mining and metallurgy. The building was named after UQ's first mining Professor, Frank White. He dedicated more than 20 years of his life to the University and his work and legacy will live on within the precinct and UQ community.

Dow Partnership

A $4.4 million investment from The Dow Chemical Company will power UQ research to deliver new technologies and processes to improve the sustainable production and use of chemicals, energy, transportation, and other key areas of focus for both the company, University and societal needs.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the contribution builds on UQ’s longstanding partnership with Dow that has already delivered innovative research in low-carbon dioxide (CO2) steel and next-generation fertilisers.

The fast facts

  • The building contains more than 12,500 sqm of usable floor area
  • More than a quarter of that is dedicated to teaching and learning spaces
  • 26.5 per cent of the building is dedicated to research laboratory facilities
  • It will house a nine bay Pilot Hall with three storey, two storey and one storey height spaces
  • 5 x 470 sqm flexible wet chemistry research laboratory spaces
  • Heavy equipment laboratories and specialist spaces for pyrometallurgy, flotation, crushing and sampling.