ANU Birch Building

Project Features

  • Comprehensive refurbishment project
  • 11,148 sqm four storey plus basement
  • Heritage listed building
  • Condensed construction program
  • 5 x PC1 and 1 x PC2 Certified laboratories
  • Prefabrication technology and production utilised
Year Completed

Project Details

$75m upgrade for ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences

Awarded the mechanical services contract for the project by Hindmarsh Construction, Benmax completed a major refurbishment of the Birch Building (Building 35) located at the Australian National University in Acton, Canberra.

Constructed in 1967, the 11,148 sqm heritage listed building previously housed the Research School of Chemistry but is now home to the College of Engineering and Computer Science with contemporary teaching spaces, MakerSpace learning environments and PC1/PC2 Certified research laboratories.

In line with strict requirements to maintain the buildings heritage features, including the unique precast façade, atrium stair and coffered floor slabs, the structure was stripped back to slab, columns and external walls with only the façade remaining.

Structures within the building were then strengthened to accommodate modern day building services and allow for an additional storey to be added for the large plant room. Works included reengineered load paths and footings, heavy steel bracing walls, and a new reinforced roof structure capable of supporting increased loads, including more than 35 x AHUs and 49 x fans.

To meet the needs of the client the entire project team was required to work to a tight construction program. To support this, Benmax incorporated the use of prefabricated and preassembled HVAC equipment into the build.

This innovative construction method supported higher levels of productivity and enabled improved delivery time frames, while also supporting the highest standards of quality control and on-site safety of workers. On this project the team installed a total of eight separate prefabricated riser modules in four locations throughout the build. A further 10 flue exhaust riser stacks were constructed in our off-site workshop and transferred to site for installation.

Features of the mechanical services design for this building include fume cupboards incorporated throughout. While the current fit-out comprises of only 10 units, the system design will support an expansion of up to 40 cupboards in years to come in line with the university’s vision for the building.

Approximately 40+ small risers, each running from ground level to level 3 ceiling space, are supported by four main risers. The use of small and large risers allows for the fire separation of fume cupboard exhaust duct from supply and return air ductwork. This was a client requirement in the design and mandated under building code requirements.

As the ANU intends to lease out laboratory spaces, they needed flexibility within the design to meet future tenant needs. With this in mind, there are multiple medical gas line reticulations to all laboratories including some empty lines. These medical gas lines have corresponding gas taps in each fume cupboard to make later additions simple.

Benmax successfully completed work on the project in 2021.

“10/10. An excellent contractor to work with who can push a programme when it’s needed.”
Warren Fenwick, Project Manager – Hindmarsh Construction

Since completion, the ANU Birch Building project has gone on to receive several industry accolades and we congratulate our project partners for their achievements, including:

  • Hindmarsh Construction – Judges Commendation – Commercial Fit-out Refurbishment or Alteration More than $10m at the 2022 Master Builders ACT Building Excellence Awards.
  • Hassell – Winner Canberra Medallion at the ACT Architecture Awards 2022
Awarded the mechanical services contract for the project by Hindmarsh Construction, Benmax recently completed work at the Australian National University undertaking a major refurbishment of the 11,148 sqm three storey Birch Building.

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We design, build and maintain specialised mechanical systems for commercial and industrial facilities to provide healthy, safe and efficient indoor environments for people to live, work and play. We’ve spent three decades building our reputation. We’ve done that by doing a good job, and getting another job.

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