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Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is the first building in Australia designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world's most influential architects.

A key component of UTS’s City Campus Master Plan, the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building will provide teaching, learning, research and office accommodation for the UTS Business School, a manifestation of the creative thinking that underpins the teaching and research undertaken by the faculty and, more broadly, the university. There will be extensive public spaces in the new building, including student lounges, cafes and outdoor roof terraces.

The building will have two distinct external facades, one composed of undulating brick, referencing the sandstone and the dignity of Sydney’s urban brick heritage, and the other of large, angled sheets of glass to fracture and mirror the image of surrounding buildings.



The name

The building is named for Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist Dr Chau Chak Wing, who donated $20 million to the project, alongside an additional $5 million for Australia-China scholarships



The design

Gehry Partners designs from the inside-out, meaning that the design of internal spaces must be developed before design of the building's exterior can start



Links to the precinct

The building will become a key destination on the 'cultural ribbon' that extends from the Sydney Opera House down to the UTS, passing through key sites such as the Powerhouse Museum and Darling Harbour


Facilitating collaboration

  • Collaboration and technology drove the design of teaching, learning and office spaces
  • Major teaching and learning spaces will feature moveable furniture so that students can swivel and undertake group work during a lecture or seminar
  • An extensive ‘communication and interaction wall’ is proposed for each learning space to facilitate discussion, brainstorming, presentations and other engagements between students and lecturers
  • Office areas will feature a variety of open-plan workstations and academic offices, with extensive shared meeting areas and common spaces for formal and informal meetings
  • Academic offices will be to the new UTS standard of 9-10 square metres. The smaller office size will allow more shared, collaborative spaces, which facilitates more interaction between academics and between academics and students
  • Schools and administrative areas will be spread across multiple floors, connected by stairs, to encourage people to move between floors and meet colleagues from other areas of the faculty

In the architect's words

Frank Gehry imagined a building that was a cluster of “tree houses,” or vertical stacks of office floors with spatial “cracks” in between.

"Each of the larger lower floors is divided into six floor segments. The building façade folds in between these elements bringing natural daylight deep into the center of the floors."

"The façade of the building will have two aspects and two different personalities. The east facing façade that contains an entry from the UPN is made of a buff colored brick similar in color to the Sydney Sandstone. The form of this façade curves and folds like soft fabric. The brick will be set in horizontal courses and will step or corbel to create the shape. The texture of the surface will be rough and will emphasize the mass of the material. The shape flattens as it wraps around the north and south corners. Large windows punch this façade."

"The west facing façade that contains the ground level entry off Ultimo Road is composed of large shards of glass façade. This glass will be slightly reflective to fracture and mirror the image of the surrounding buildings of the neighborhood. Sculptural brick towers will stand at the northwest and southwest corners of this façade."

"The ground floor of the building will have a café with seated dining that opens to additional outdoor tables on the sidewalk and proposed plaza to the north. A coffee bar with outdoor seating will animate the upper level entry off the UPN, conveniently adjacent to the student center and the large student lounge. Connected via a staircase to the student lounge will be a more secluded graduate student lounge one level above."

"The teaching and learning spaces, which are accessibly located on the lower four levels of the building, are comprised of various classroom types primarily serving postgraduate students.  There are 10 graduate seminar rooms of 40 seats with flat floors to allow for flexibility in seating arrangement, a 120-seat bowl classroom with desk seating and loose chairs on the first floor, four flat floor graduate computer labs for 40 students each, and two oval classrooms for 60."

Project data

Size: 16,030sqm, spread over 11 floors
Expected completion: October 2014
Project team: Project Management Office (UTS project manager); Gehry Partners (design architect); Daryl Jackson Robin Dyke (executive architect); Lend Lease (main works contractor)
Enquiries: Brian Moore, Project Manager (ext 4688, email: Brian.Moore@uts.edu.au

Additional project team members: AW Edwards (early works contractor); AECOM (services engineer); Arup (structural engineer, transportation and traffic); RPS (statutory planner); Casey & Lowe (archaeological consultant); Godden Mackay Logan (heritage assessment); Morris Goding Access Consulting (accessibility consultant); Wind Tech Consulting (wind assessment); AECOM (ecologically sustainable development); Australian Museum Business Services [AMBS] (Archaeological Investigation & Excavation); Dominic Steele Consulting Archaeology (Aboriginal archaeological investigation)