The John Curtin School for Medical Research completed Stage I of its development in 2009. The project has been designed by Melbourne-based architects, Lyons Architecture.
The client, Australian National University, has had a long-running history of prestigious students and alumni, including nobel-prize winners. Because of this long-standing history embedded in the University, the new development and briefing process called for an outcome that would be recognisable and distinctive.
The building was designed to enhance interactivity and collaborative research. Glazed entry foyer space incorporates interactive displays and a 200 seat public lecture theatre. The building incorporates landscape courtyards, naturally ventilated offices and other Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) features. A key external detail to the building is the off-form 3D relief pre-cast concrete accompanied by the splayed facade which is reminiscent of a DNA helix.
The interior of the building comprises layered, linear offices, support spaces, corridors, small controlled laboratory spaces and large Containment Level laboratories. To facilitate collaboration, the shared laboratory spaces and open-plan academic offices are positioned around the perimeter. To set these spaces together, perpendicular zones cut through the building from facade to facade creating apertures, thresholds and windows. These penetrations making it easy to locate colleagues without entering the Containment areas. But, most importantly, they open the core interior spaces by providing elongated vistas through the layers of the building to the wider campus landscape.
The facility was opened by the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, on May 14th 2009. Currently Stage II is under-construction.