Melbourne Connect is the University of Melbourne’s new state-of-the-art innovation and research precinct located at the bustling intersection of Grattan and Swanston streets on the edge of the Melbourne CBD.

In what has been a transformational redevelopment of the former Royal Women’s Hospital site in Carlton, the new precinct connects people, places and possibilities by bringing together researchers, industry, government and community to progress innovative solutions to society’s biggest challenges. This $425million development comprises of a number of connected buildings that knit together along the perimeter of the precinct’s public outdoor space.

The two commercial buildings in the precinct are intended to provide workspace accommodation for academics, researchers, industry as well as start-ups. The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology together with its Fabrication Laboratory and Human Computer Interaction Labs will be have an anchor presence in this precinct, utilising office spaces across 8 floors of the high raise commercial building

Bringing different dimensions to the precinct is the dedicated postgraduate student accommodation, and the bold addition of Science Gallery Melbourne, part of the acclaimed Global Science Gallery Network. Within the precinct’s main tower is the ‘Superfloor’, a dedicated collaboration space which is home to Melbourne Connect engagement activities.

Approach

AECOM has worked with University of Melbourne since the early stages of this unique development, starting with a feasibility study and then a reference design. When the University adopted the development partner procurement model, AECOM continued to support the University in a client-side role. Initially as the technical advisor, our team provided technical advice during the Expression of Interest and Tender phases in the University’s selection process for a development partner.

After the appointment of the University’s development partner AECOM carried out technical reviews of design proposals for the commercial and student accommodation buildings as well as the overall precinct design.

AECOM has had an ongoing role providing construction phase technical advice and seeing the project to completion.

Outcomes and Value

In carrying out this role, the team has leveraged its initial design-focussed role that involved the feasibility study of an initial scheme, which was then advanced to design development level and used as a reference design in the development partner procurement.

We have been able to draw on our in-depth knowledge of the site, early user engagement and continuity in project involvement to add value to the technical advisor role.

Science Gallery Melbourne: Award: Award for interior architecture – 2023 National Architecture Awards Program – Australian Institute of Architects