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2017 National Architecture Awards: Educational Architecture Award

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

Jury citation

This restrained and refined insertion adopts an imaginative adaptive re-use strategy, significantly reimagining the restrictive cellular planning of the historically significant Forgan Smith Building at the University of Queensland. Sourcing its architectural expression in the traditions and substance of the legal profession, it nevertheless fulfils the spatial requirements of contemporary teaching and research.

A dramatic entry space provides an arrival experience that is also the identifiable “heart” of the school, uniting all three previously disconnected levels. This memorable space reveals movement and promotes active interaction between students, staff and visitors.

Spatial order is informed by three “pillars” – knowledge, learning and inquiry – each with particular colour and detail. Articulation and detail, including decorative motifs, are drawn from the traditions and representations of the campus and the law school. Material selection reinforces this identity, while refurbished silky oak timber doors and frames make tangible the connection to the original fabric, informing the refined sensibility of new material and colour selections.

At the centre of the library is a glowing lantern structure, inspired by and softly illuminating the collection and reading room. The remarkable quality of finishes and furniture enhances the sequential spatial order and combines with the programmatic elements to deliver an exceptional and enriching setting for teaching and research.

For more coverage, 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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