Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building © The Lens Kim Johnsen; Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building © The Lens Kim Johnsen;

Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building, Adelaide

A world-class research and teaching facility for Adelaide

The Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building (AHMS) is technically complex, 13,000m² state-of-the-art laboratory, teaching, research and clinical facility for the University of Adelaide, which is renowned for world-class medical research, teaching practice and programmes. It also houses the Adelaide Dental Hospital and was built with support from the Australian Government.

The 13-level building is located in the Adelaide BioMed City precinct on North Terrace, alongside the New Royal Adelaide Hospital, UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute, and SAHMRI.

Integration and collaboration are fundamental aspects of the University’s successful approach to education and research and the AHMS facilitates this immersive, skills-based learning approach. With shared adaptable learning and social environments, the building promotes flexibility, inter-professional learning and encourages collaboration between peers across medicine, nursing, dentistry and health and medical sciences.

AHMS provides the University with a key opportunity to attract and retain talented students, researchers and academic staff, while providing a positive long-term contribution to the health sector. It brings together more than 1,600 students and 700 health researchers across the precinct in a vibrant, innovative environment featuring cutting-edge technology, teaching spaces, technical training and simulation suites.

Project Summary

12m over a future rail corridor

25%reduction in concrete volume on typical floors

10kmof 300mm wide horizontal glass sunshades on the facade

Collaboration, integration and transparency were the hallmarks of the consultant design team (Arup, Aecom and Aurecon) throughout the project – from the vision, how teams were designed, transparent operating protocols, reporting structures, communications methods, approval processes and how technology was utilised. This ensured informed decisions could be made when dealing with the extra order of complexity required by the unique needs of the research and laboratory spaces.

© The Lens, Kim Johnsen

Structural complexity 

The constrained site, railway easement, vibration sensitive elements and large column-free lecture spaces provided a series of complex structural challenges. The structural framing accommodates a range of day-to-day design loads within the building, as well as loads from an unbalanced retaining wall, raking columns, cantilevering terraces, wind and seismic loads. Arup’s structural engineers designed complex transfer structures (trusses supporting up to ten levels) including a spectacular 12m cantilevering steel truss which suspends one entire corner of the building, positioned over a railway easement to the north-east of the site.

Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building © Martin Saunders Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building © Martin Saunders

Managing a vibration sensitive fit-out

On laboratory levels, concrete slabs and beams required detailed analysis and design to provide stringent vibration control, suitable for sensitive equipment. High performance vibration control for specific parts of the floor was achieved by limiting the location of vibration-sensitive equipment to central, shorter slab spans. This approach enabled a 25% reduction in concrete volume on typical floors, along with the associated PT and reinforcement that would have been required.

© Martin Saunders

Arup’s Advanced Technology and Research Group analysed the effects of mechanical plant, wind-excited façade elements, footfall excitation and trains, trams and buses from the adjacent transport corridors. Through detailed analysis and clear technical information, we enabled the client to carefully consider the expected vibrations, architectural layout and options for vibration isolation.

A high performing façade

Arup’s façade team worked closely with Lyons, the architects for the base building, to devise a façade system that communicates a unique rail motif while maintaining the highest level of glare reduction, and thermal and acoustic performance within the available budget. The curtain wall design features horizontal glazed sunshades which were carefully designed using heat-strengthened glass - sufficient to support the weight of future window maintenance and cleaning, while mitigating the risk of spontaneous fracture due to nickel sulphide particles that occur more frequently with fully toughened glass.

Our façade engineers also undertook the detailed design and engineering for the complex atrium façade which was a challenge of structural glass design and engineering. The design restrains large 4.2m tall glass panels using low-iron glass fins, custom patch plates and horizontal steel beams.

© Martin Saunders

The high degree of architectural and engineering collaboration has produced a unique and delightful response to a complex medical teaching, research and clinical program on a highly constrained site. ”

Nick Roach head shot Nick Roach Associate

Award wins

South Australia Engineering Excellence Award
Buildings and Structures - AECOM & Aurecon (joint submission)

Australian Institute of Project Management Awards
Construction / Engineering - UoA & Mott MacDonald (joint submission)

Master Builders Awards
Excellence in Commercial / Industrial Building over $100m Landmark Project - Lendlease
Excellence in Services - Hindmarsh Plumbing
Excellence in Cladding and External Finishes - SA Construct

National Electrical and Communication Awards
Energy Efficiency and Environment South Australia Award - Azzo