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2017 National Architecture Awards: Interior Architecture Award

UQ Forgan Smith Building – TC Beirne School of Law and Walter Harrison Library Refurbishment by BVN Interior Architecture: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

Inserted seamlessly within the University of Queensland’s Forgan Smith Building, this distinctive and refined interior for a relocated law school significantly reimagines the restrictive cellular planning of the shell. It provides for contemporary teaching, learning and research while drawing on the traditions and sensibility of the legal profession for inspiration.

The interior has been radically transformed through the introduction of significant voids, dramatic stairs and new vaulted ceilings defining wayfinding and offering visual delight. A memorable and spatially complex entry experience connects the three previously disconnected levels while revealing movement and interaction between visitors, staff and students. This space provides an identifiable “heart” to the school.

The material palette also pays homage to legal traditions and aesthetics, including in its decorative motifs, while refurbished silky oak doors provide a tangible link to the original fabric. A very high quality of finishes and beautiful custom furniture have been provided within the limits of the budget and procurement framework. The sequential spatial order combines seamlessly with the distinctive character of the separate territories in this elegant and restrained interior.

For more coverage of the UQ Forgan Smith Building – TC Beirne School of Law and Walter Harrison Library Refurbishment, read the article by ArchitectureAU editor (acting), Linda Cheng.


Project Team
Brian Donovan (project principal), Damian Eckersley (project director), Lucas Leo (project architect), Jared Bird, Marc Sullivan, Fedor Medek, Polina Zhalniarovich, Phil Tait, Greg Lamb, Joanna Newton, Jad Sylla
Acoustic consultant Acoustics Noise Vibration
Builder Buildcorp Interiors
Building certifier and DDA McKenzie Group
Electrical, mechanical, hydraulics engineers Aurecon
Fire engineer Arup
Fire services Aurecon
Heritage consultant Andrew Ladlay Architect
Lift consultant Aurecon
Quantity surveyor Steele Wrobel
Structural engineer Bligh Tanner
Superintendent's representative Capital Insight
Site details
Location Brisbane,  Qld,  Australia
Site type Urban
Category Commercial / public buildings
Type Universities / colleges
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 2 Nov 2017
Words: 2017 National Architecture Awards Jury
Images: Christopher Frederick Jones


Architecture Australia, November 2017

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