Queen Mary Building (The University of Sydney)

Sydney University, NSW



The University of Sydney

72 weeks

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In December 2013, The University of Sydney engaged FDC Construction & Fitout under a lump sum Design & Construct contract to refurbish and convert the iconic and historical Queen Mary Building from its previous use as nurses accommodation and a training facility for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to a student accommodation facility for The University of Sydney. This facility is to be the benchmark in student accommodation with the incorporation of large student common areas including a communal kitchen, a theatre, an entertainment lounge, music rooms, a gym, external terraces with complete facilities, and the like. This tranche of ‘beds’ is the first 800 beds of more than 4,000 that USYD are undertaking.

FDC took the concept design that had been developed by Nettletontribe [architect / interior designer], SCP [structural engineer] and engaged those consultants [and numerous other] to progress the design in accordance with the principals project requirements. The result was the design of a fully refurbished building for student accommodation.

The building, although not heritage listed had many heritage and conservation requirements placed on it as part of the Development Application. This was due to the ‘period significance’ of the building and the fact there are few remaining examples of this type of construction. USYD employed the services of a heritage architect who developed the conservation plan that required strict adherence. The requirements of this included: new windows and curtain wall to be kept in line (as-close as possible) to the existing, implementation of a heritage wing of apartments, reinstatement of one communal bathroom i.e. to be rebuilt in the same form that was there prior to demolition, refurbishment of the main central stairs, interpretation panels and miscellaneous items to be displayed throughout the building.

The project had many significant work faces and challenges, it included:

  • Complete strip-out of the existing facility back to bare structure
  • Concrete & façade remediation (including lintels to the 1,000 plus windows) brickwork remediation and concrete cancer remediation
  • Refitting of the 800 plus rooms
  • Fitting out of 24 communal bathrooms
  • Fitting out of 2 communal floors including a communal kitchen (cook your own with over 42 cooktops, fridge’s, freezers and wash up benches), entertainment spaces, learning/study areas, theatres, laundries, gyms, music rooms, communication rooms etc
  • New curtain wall to the north & south central core
  • Removal and reinstatement of all windows throughout
  • Shear strengthening of the existing structure to bring the building upto current earthquake loading requirements. This included the requirement to excavate 6 meters below the building at the anchor points, install 12 meter ground anchors and back-fill with over 200m³ of concrete. Then the installation of 200mm thick shear walls through the existing stairs and lift shafts. This occurred in 3 locations and the methodologies implemented were the first in the industry and very innovative.
  • Complete new infrastructure installation including the main incoming services i.e. power, water & gas through to complete infrastructure reticulation throughout the facility including new lifts, power, comms, security, plumbing/hydraulics, stormwater, fire systems, smoke exhaust systems, sustainability requirements such as solar etc
  • Construction of add on structures for entertainment purposes to the roof levels this included 2 new ‘skylounges’, BBQ areas and a laundry with the best view in Sydney
  • New landscaped areas to the existing podium area on level 1 and new landscaped areas to the roof level as a student retreat

Project Features

  • Demolition & refurbishment over 12 levels
  • Over 800 student accommodation rooms
  • Heavily staged delivery
  • Student common rooms on ground floor
  • Kitchen and cafeteria on ground floor


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2015Winner, MBA Best Refurbishment / Renovation / Extension $50M+ (NSW)

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