A cornerstone of the $1 billion UTS Campus Master Plan, the landmark Vicki Sara Building (Building 7) was designed by Durbach Block Jaggers, in association with BVN Architecture.
The building opened for teaching on February 23, 2015 and was formally opened by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner in April that year.
Located on the corner of Thomas and Jones streets in the heart of the City Campus, the Vicki Sara Building connects seamlessly to Building 4 to create a new science and health teaching, learning and research precinct. Officially launched as the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health Building, the building was renamed in November 2016 in recognition of long-serving UTS Chancellor and endocrinologist Vicki Sara.
The building has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Design and AsBuilt rating Certified by the Green Building Council of Australia and includes a green roof, storm water collection and treatment for garden irrigation, solar hot water and many more sustainability features.
The Vicki Sara Building breathes life into the university’s learning.futures student-centred model of learning and industry-focused research. Representing a quantum shift in the way teaching, learning and research spaces are designed at UTS, it incorporates a number of specialist labs and contemporary technology as well as a range of collaborative teaching spaces to support active learning. There are also a number of public areas for the general UTS community.
It has been future-proofed to accommodate more than 1200 staff and students over eight occupied levels, three of them underground, and is notable for its state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities. These include a 220-seat Super Lab which, as the video below shows, is much more than your average science lab.
Project completed: October 2014
Teaching commenced: February 2015
Gross building area: 13,800m² over six levels (including plant) + 3 underground plant and laboratory levels
Location: Corner of Thomas Street and Jones Street, Ultimo
Architect: Durbach Block Jaggers in association with BVN Architecture
Main works contractor: Richard Crookes Constructions
Sustainability rating: 6 Star Green Star Design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. One of only two university facilities in NSW and ninth in Australia to be awarded this rating
Key design features and spaces
With its organic, flowing lines, the exterior of the building declares that this is a structure that dares to be different, and the interior is equally note-worthy. Take a tour of some of the highlights – inside and out.
The state-of-the-art Super Lab is 52 metres long, with space for 220 students. The 26 workbenches each seat eight students and are fitted with touchscreen monitors and microphones, to allow up to 12 classes to work concurrently. Every second bench features a demonstration station for teachers, while a break-out area accommodates group work and informal meetings. Additional generalist labs are on levels 4, 5 and 6, with specialist science labs on levels 0, 5 and 6.
Green Theatre Auditorium
A 200-seat auditorium symbolically reflects the building’s sustainability credentials in its striking green-coloured interior, while quirky ‘beaker’ lighting keeps research at the core of this space. The auditorium, which features rows of tiered seating, will be shared by the entire university, and used for presentations, group workshops and technology-enabled events.
The building's undulating design is inspired by the organic forms of a tree grove, reflecting its position overlooking the revitalised, tree-lined Alumni Green. Around 700 colourful, box-style windows offer a playful contrast to the sleek, off-white rendered façade.
Appropriate for a building that houses the School of the Environment, Building 7 is green at heart. The building has achieved a 6 Star Green Star Design rating, and its sustainability features include a rooftop garden, a 27,000-litre rainwater tank and external cladding made from more than 75% recycled glass. Find out more about the building's sustainability features.
Thousands of small, pastel mosaic tiles – enough to cover 950m² – were sourced from Spain for the walls around the building’s main staircase and the light well to the Super Lab. The effect is one of air and space, even below ground.
The wide concrete stairway is a grand feature in its own right. It curves gracefully between levels 2 and 7, with a light well generated from a skylight on the roof above creating a bright, attractive and healthier alternative to using the lifts.
Cornerstone Café and student commons
Located at the Jones St entry to Building 7 and overlooking the revitalised Alumni Green, the Cornerstone Café is a popular spot for staff and students to refuel, collaborate and socialise, and is also be open to the general public. The informal learning space, located adjacent to the café, provides a relaxed environment for meetings and collaborative or individual study.
UTS's Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health Building, designed by Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN, is the recipient of the following prestigious architecture, sustainability and AV awards:
- 2015 National Architecture Awards (Institute of Architects): National Award for Educational Architecture (opens external site)
- 2015 NSW Architecture Awards (Institute of Architects): Inaugural William E Kemp Award for Educational Architecture (opens external site)
- 2015 NSW Architecture Awards (Institute of Architects): City of Sydney Lord Mayor's Architecture Prize 2015(opens external site)
- 2015 Sydney Design Awards: Gold Winner, Architecture – Mixed Use – Constructed (opens external site)
- 2015 Architecture & Design Sustainability Awards: Public Building and Urban Design (opens external site)
- 2015 Green Globe Awards: Built Environment Sustainability - Commercial Properties (opens external site)
- 2015 AIRAH Awards: Excellence in Sustainability (opens external site)
- 2016 Audio Visual Industry Awards: UTS Superlab – Best Application of AV in Education with a Budget over $500K
The building was also a finalist for Hanson's Green Building Award in the 2015 World Environment Day Awards.
February 2011: Competition to design the building
March 2012: Excavation of the site begins
February 2013: Construction gets underway
March 2014: Topping out of the building is achieved
June 2014: Internal fit-out begins
October 2014: Practical completion is achieved
February 2015: Teaching commenced
Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health
Find out more about the Faculty of Science and its quality, relevant and innovative teaching and research, as well as the innovative and practice-based graduate programs offered by the Graduate School of Health.