DCM + HDR to deliver $478m biomedical research facility

Tuesday, 06 September, 2022

DCM + HDR to deliver $478m biomedical research facility

Denton Corker Marshall + HDR in partnership with Arcadia Landscape Architecture and Aileen Sage are set to deliver the University of Sydney’s Biomedical Accelerator facility, featuring a sevenstorey circular spine, floating laboratories and a lot more.

The $478 million Sydney Biomedical Accelerator (SBA) is a 36,000 m2 health, research and education facility co-funded by the NSW Government, Sydney Local Health District and The University of Sydney.

The Accelerator has been benchmarked against the world’s leading biomedical facilities such as the Karolinska Institutet (50% of Sweden’s life science companies in one precinct), the University of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and MassBio (life science super-cluster of 1100 members including Harvard, MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital).

It is said to be a first-in-Australia facility equipped with a range of laboratory research facilities and clinical learning spaces. It will build a biomedical precinct to fast-track research and patient care in New South Wales.

For the first time, a physical bridge connecting the university and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital campuses will be established as a part of the project.

The project design has connectivity at its heart with a focus around a seven-storey circulation spine called the ‘Connector’. The design competition jury noted: “The Connector is a compelling proposition, with the functionality and interconnecting qualities expected to foster collaborative interaction, providing a unique offering.”

Alongside the Connector, laboratory planning lead HDR has designed a range of education and laboratory research facilities, specialist core laboratories and technical support spaces that bring together multidisciplinary teams and integrate fundamental research at the molecular and cellular level with patient-centred research and health outcomes.

In the following 12 to 18 months the architects will work with the university, Sydney Local Health District and other stakeholders to workshop and finalise designs. Early works for the Accelerator will commence this year and initial occupation is expected to occur from 2026.

Adrian FitzGerald, Senior Director, Denton Corker Marshall, said, “We designed the building as a clear, simple sculptural form with a solid base acknowledging its campus setting; a floating top with compelling imagery alluding to both scientific investigation within and an embedded Indigenous narrative in the sculptural sunscreens.”

Graeme Spencer, National Director of Education + Science, HDR, said by pairing the group’s local and global scientific expertise, it has the opportunity to design and deliver “state-of-the-art, highly adaptable biomedical laboratories where education, health care, engineering and science converge, ultimately enabling SLHD and The University of Sydney to succeed in biomedical research”.

“Laboratories are one of the most programmatically complex and diverse environments to plan, design and engineer, but using advanced design technologies and our data-driven process we have conceived a flexible and efficient design that will cultivate knowledge transfer between biomedical research talent, support robust creativity and collaboration, and enable the acceleration of the biomedical process — from research through to development and commercialisation.”

The Accelerator will tackle some of our most complex health challenges, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and position Sydney as a global leader in biomedical research. Scientists at the facility will conduct research into the building blocks of life, regenerative medicine, drug discovery and medical device development, and harness the latest in nanotechnology and gene and stem cell therapy to transform health outcomes in the state.

Image caption: View of the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator from Western Avenue featuring the seven-storey circulation spine called the Connector. Image credit: Denton Corker Marshall

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mark Scott AO said the investment is a key component of the university’s new 10-year strategy.

“It gives our renowned researchers and partners the infrastructure to take a major step forward in the global quest to find solutions to our biggest health challenges. Together, we have the potential to dramatically improve the future of health and medical care in this country,” Scott said.

“Once the Accelerator is completed, the long-term relationship between our university and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital will be further strengthened by the physical sharing and linkage of facilities, accelerating the pathway between findings made at a patient’s bedside to the research bench and back again.”

The Vice-Chancellor said, “This project cements our long-standing partnership with the Sydney Local Health District and we are so thankful for the $143.3 million commitment that the NSW Government announced for this project back in June.”

Over 1200 world-class biomedical researchers and clinician scientists will be located onsite at the Accelerator, including over 800 university laboratory researchers and PhD students and 100 industry researchers.

Work at the SBA and the university’s facilities at Westmead will be mapped together for shared access and collaboration. Capabilities will be designed to seamlessly complement each other across the two sites such as the viral vectors created at Westmead which will be used for gene and cell therapies development at the SBA.

Funding for the Accelerator also includes $73 million in philanthropy to the University of Sydney. A $20 million donation from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation will establish The Isaac Wakil Biomedical Building, one of three buildings that make up the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator complex. Isaac Wakil Biomedical Building stands beside and connects to the Susan Wakil Health Building (not part of SBA), opened in 2021 and also supported by a $35 million donation from the Wakils.

Top image caption: Architectural concept of the Sydney Biomedical Accelerator from St Andrew’s Oval — a solid base grounds the building and relates to the heritage context, while bold forms float above creating compelling imagery alluding to the scientific investigation within. Image credit: Denton Corker Marshall

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