In a class of its own, building transforms Melbourne campus

Students are flocking to the new Saint Teresa of Kolkata Building on ACU’s Melbourne campus in Fitzroy following project handover by construction company, BESIX Watpac.

ACU Chief Operating Officer Dr Stephen Weller said the building was a major investment for the university, blending state-of-the-art architecture and sustainability.

“It is a very exciting project that will bring together our students, our staff and our communities to enhance their engagement and connectedness,” he said.

“We set out to create a contemporary, accessible, welcoming and practical setting that incorporates our commitment to environmental responsibility. It also allows us to future-proof the campus, with reduced our reliance on leased premises and greater ability to manage our own resources.”

The $226 million, 18,344 square metre teaching and learning space over 13 levels includes a combination of centralised teaching facilities and informal learning spaces, upgraded student amenities, green spaces and a rooftop multi-sports court.

It also includes seven levels of basement and the construction of three additional levels over the 99-year-old Mary Glowrey building.

Construction and fit-out programs were carried out while the existing university building was still in operation, with provisions made to account for the site’s location abutting four busy city streets that remained operational throughout the build.

BESIX Watpac CEO Mark Baker said the team expertly managed the challenging site location.

“Delivering this remarkable project in a live environment and on a constrained site presented a variety of logistical challenges which were carefully managed through meticulous methodology planning.”

Heritage works were a significant part of the project and involved the full façade restoration of the existing Mary Glowrey building to Victorian heritage requirements. Mr Baker said approaching this challenge was a construction highlight.

“Our engineering team added value to the project by undertaking engineering reviews and analyses including involvement in the solution to erect structural steel supported from the ground level over the existing six-storey building.”

Forty per cent more energy efficient than a similar building constructed to the minimum standard, the building has very high indoor environment quality, achieved through the use of indoor plants and paint, flooring and furniture with minimal volatile organic compounds. It is targeting 5-Star Green Star Design & As Built ratings.

A large exterior landscaped terrace on Level 6 features real grass and more than 2,000 live plants have been planted across a range of offices and terraces. Level 8 includes a full-sized multi-sports court for basketball, netball and futsal, while at ground level, considerable streetscaping was needed to return the four boundary streets to standard once construction ended.

The new building includes 21 different types of façade and glazing. The cladding and serrated edge facade pays homage to its namesake, missionary Saint Teresa of Kolkata, while lending a nod to the site’s former Note and Stamp Printing Department.

Classes in the new building have been scheduled for the start of Semester 2 in July, and there will be an official opening and blessing in August.


  • Total cost $226 million
  • 18,344 square metre space over 13 levels
  • Centralised teaching facilities and informal learning spaces
  • Staff, student and postgraduate hubs, kitchen and lounge areas, study areas and conference facilities
  • Parking space for bikes and cars, with charging points for electric vehicles and end of trip facilities for those riding or walking to campus
  • Green spaces, including a grassed terrace on Level 6, and more than 2,000 live plants across a range of offices and terraces
  • Rooftop full-sized multi-sports court for basketball, netball and futsal
  • 12,000 m3 concrete, 2,593 tonnes of reinforcement material and 2,500 tonnes of steel used
  • More than 1 million construction hours over four years
  • 21 different types of facade and glazing
  • A 60-kilowatt array of solar panels will generate about 74,000 kWh of electricity per year
  • 100% renewable electricity sourced from the grid
  • A 30-kilolitre water tank to capture rainwater for reuse in toilets
  • All timber sourced from responsibly managed forests

Video: take a virtual tour of the completed building and see how it emerged through time lapse footage.

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