Decade of transformation on the UTS campus
Ten years after work began on the $1 billion-plus Campus Master Plan, we look back on how the campus transformation unfolded.
“There’s no doubt that the last decade has been a period of immense and rapid progress. You only have to compare the UTS campus ten years ago with what we have today to see the exciting transformation that has taken place – a transformation that is and will be far-reaching in its impact for Sydney and Australian society more broadly.”
When Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs talks about the UTS campus, his enthusiasm is infectious. That’s understandable. Over the past five years he’s driven the completion of the Campus Master Plan, a $1 billion-plus investment in the bricks, mortar, glass and stainless steel that form the foundations of the world-renowned campus. Better than anyone, he understands what opportunities the new buildings and facilities are delivering to students, researchers, staff, industry partners and the local community.
Announced in May 2008 as part of UTS’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the Master Plan envisioned by UTS and architects Bligh Voller Nield has since invested in both major new buildings and upgrades. In tandem with the existing campus works program, it has delivered the future-focused campus that students, researchers and staff richly deserve.
Kicking off in 2009, the Master Plan – together with other campus works – has propelled our campus into a caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis. It’s involved noise, dust, excavators, cranes (and craned necks as our eyes followed the construction skyward!), concrete trucks, and plenty of patience shown by students and staff over the years. But hasn’t it all been worth it?
- We now have a state-of-the-art campus to support our future-focused learning experience and high-impact research programs.
- The ‘sticky’ campus is a reality. With a rich variety of places to study, socialise and even snooze, why would students want to leave?
- More staff and researchers are enjoying new or upgraded workspaces – even revolutionary activity-based workspace, in some cases.
- Four distinctive new buildings, including UTS Central, have added to the architectural diversity of UTS and draw visitors onto campus.
- Welcoming and connected to its surrounds, the UTS campus enhances the flavour of a rejuvenated precinct that also features the Central Park development, Powerhouse Museum and a revived Darling Harbour.
- Sustainability features are embedded throughout campus, with the new Master Plan buildings all receiving (or aiming for, in the case of UTS Central) five- or six-star Green Star energy ratings.
According to Professor Brungs, the transformation has realised the university’s vision for a world-leading campus at the gateway to the Sydney CBD.
“During a defining, transformative period for UTS, three distinctive new Master Plan buildings have been delivered, with the fourth and final one just months away from opening,” he explains.
“Together with upgrades to existing spaces and the creation of specialist facilities, these new buildings are bringing world-class learning, research and workplace experiences within reach of all students and staff. Additionally, our strategically located, state-of-the-art facilities within the Moore Park, Botany and Prince of Wales Hospital precincts are allowing us to further explore opportunities with partners in sport, tech, industry and health. The buildings are of course special, but far more importantly, is the operational transformation at UTS that the buildings have allowed.
“The decade of intense redevelopment was critical to provide the foundational infrastructure and sense of place that support our vision of what type of university we wanted to be,” he adds. “The next ten years will continue to see an evolution in the campus as we support UTS 2027, but not so dramatic on the last ten years. Architecture, design and a deliberate sense of place are critical to enable us to develop and reinforce the characteristics we all want at UTS.”
How it unfolded
Follow the transformation of our campus, year by year, as a vision becomes reality.
Excitement greets the announcement that architects Denton Corker Marshall’s sculptural concept for the new Engineering and IT Building was the winning entry in a design excellence competition.
In an initiative to provide quality, affordable campus accommodation for students in the heart of campus, construction of the 720-bed Yura Mudang residence on top of our existing Building 6 (Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building) begins.
The Aerial Function Centre opens on level 7 of Building 10, offering a stylish venue for conferences and other events in the heart of campus.
UTS reveals the ‘treehouse’ design concept for a new UTS Business School building by celebrated international architect Frank Gehry. It will be the first Australian building for the architect behind a range of iconic – and sometimes controversial – buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
UTS celebrates the completion of its first Master Plan projects: a much-needed sports hub in the basement of the Science building (Building 4), known as the Ross Milbourne Sports Hall (named for a former vice-chancellor); a Great Hall reimagined as a grand cathedral-like space; and the vibrant new student residence Yura Mudang.
The first major upgrade to the UTS Tower core since it opened in 1979 is announced, promising faster and more energy-efficient lifts, while the progressive refurbishments of the Tower floors to accommodate relocating professional units gets underway.
Another design competition delivers an elegant, undulating concept for a new Science building, courtesy of Durbach Block Jaggers. It will be constructed as part of the Thomas St project, which also incorporates an underground robotic Library Retrieval System below a reimagined Alumni Green.
All three new buildings – Engineering and IT, Business and Science – are now under construction, and below Alumni Green, the foundations have been completed for the 13,000 sqm Library Retrieval System.
Elsewhere, myriad smaller projects are enhancing life at UTS. These include an extension to the Building 6 podium – which brings new teaching, learning and informal study spaces. Upgrades to Building 10’s lifts, car park and lobby, including the Student Centre, are underway. In the UTS Tower, a refurbished food court reopens on level 3 after four months of construction, while on level 6, students are making the most of a new learning commons complete with meeting pods, collaboration zones, general access computers and a kitchenette.
Off-campus, the UTS Haberfield Rowing Club reopens after a year-long transformation into a world-class rowing facility and popular spot for relaxing.
The Engineering and IT building is a wrap. On a spectacular night of celebration, then Governor of NSW Dame Marie Bashir declares the “outstanding new facility” open by turning on the striking green exterior lighting. Classes begin the following semester.
The three distinctive sections of the revitalised Alumni Green – the ‘garden’, ‘heart’ and ‘green’ open progressively during the year. Deciduous trees, lush plantings, an expansive lawn, ping-pong tables and seating with hidden power sockets provide the student-friendly green heart that the campus deserves.
Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove opens the UTS Business School, known as the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building after its major benefactor. Sir Peter describes it as the “most beautiful squashed brown paper bag ever seen”, in reference to its distinctive, crumpled appearance. The new Science Building opens a few weeks later and is later named after former Chancellor Vicki Sara.
The UTS Tower gets its name in lights with the installation of illuminated ‘sky’ signage, which involves hair-raising efforts from a team of abseilers.
A refurbishment of several floors of Building 10 is also completed to accommodate Health and Arts and Social Sciences students and staff relocating from the Kuring-gai campus. The new facilities include an activity-based workspace for HDR (higher degree research) students. Kuring-gai closes at the end of 2015, bring to an end a quarter of a century of UTS at Lindfield.
For a campus used to the sound of jackhammers, drills and concrete trucks, the start of the year is noticeably quieter despite the campus continuing its steady evolution.
Away from the heart of campus, another state-of-the-art facility is on the rise at Moore Park – Sydney’s premier sports precinct – for students and researchers enrolled in sport science, physio and sports media programs. Meanwhile, preliminary works get underway for a state-of-the-art Blackfriars Children’s Centre.
The year ends with a bang as demolition of Building 2 begins, in preparation for a 17-level student hub and faculty building in the heart of campus. Known as UTS Central, it will be the final major project for the decade-long Master Plan when completed in 2019.
The UTS Rugby Australia Building opens at Moore Park in 2017, embedding university programs within an elite sporting precinct for the first time in Australia’s history. Work also begins on another specialist off-campus research facility, known as the UTS Tech Lab. Located in Sydney’s industrial heartland at Botany, UTS Tech Lab will put our engineering and innovation know-how within reach of many prospective research and development partners.
On campus, the new state-of-the-art Blackfriars Children Centre opens with 84 full-time childcare places for UTS staff students and others, freeing up the site of the previous centre for a future industry research hub. Building 15 in Haymarket welcomes the UTS Animal Logic Academy to brand new Hollywood-standard studio facilities, purpose-designed to prepare students for special effects roles in the film industry.
UTS Central dominates the campus skyline as it reaches its full height late in a year that is one of the busiest yet for campus construction projects.
Just down the road at One Hundred Broadway, the custom fit-out of six floors begins for the relocation of the UTS Graduate School of Health. As well as uniting the various disciplines, the new facilities will include a multidisciplinary teaching clinic and dedicated simulation rooms where students receive hands-on learning experiences in their individual discipline.
Elsewhere, a spate of new facilities open. These include a 400-seat collaborative theatre at the Powerhouse Museum, an underground 3D manufacturing facility called ProtoSpace, an Indigenous plant garden, the UTS Tech Lab at Botany and an activity-based workspace for staff and researchers working for the Institute for Sustainable Futures. Work begins at the Prince of Wales Hospital precinct in Randwick on a purpose-built base for The Kidman Centre UTS, a specialist youth mental health treatment and research unit. A raft of sustainability projects are announced, headlined by Australian-first agreements to share power with and source recycled water from the neighbouring Central Park development.
After more than two years in construction, the glass-encased UTS Central building is nearing completion and will open in stages from August 2019 through to early 2020. UTS Central will deliver a wealth of student, teaching and faculty spaces to the heart of campus, including a new home for the Faculty of Law and the UTS Library.
More generally across campus, under-utilised spaces are being identified for improved efficiencies and options are being explored for older facilities presenting opportunities for upgrade and renewal. One such space is the old-style Uni Hall lecture theatre in Building 4, which has been demolished to make way for a seven-storey facility accommodating a wealth of research spaces, including cutting-edge Science labs.
Where to from here?
While we may have achieved our campus of the future and the Master Plan is winding down, the campus will continue to evolve. So what can we expect in the future? Watch this space – it’s the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of our changing campus.