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Medical research comes to the fore in Adelaide
October 9, 2014

As the heart of a new medical precinct on Adelaide’s North Terrace, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is a beacon of innovation and collaboration.

The purpose-built facility is home to more than 600 scientists who conduct research in the areas of: cancer; heart health; infections and immunity; mind and brain; nutrition and metabolism as well as aboriginal health and healthy mothers, babies and children. Together they work to translate medical research from the laboratories into better treatments and cures for the wider community.

Teamwork is one of five core values of the institute, and a key driver for the design brief was that the building foster collaboration between researchers and enable interactive community engagement and education programs. Furthermore, SAHMRI’s vision was to provide a fully integrated solution across all building services, facilities and functional areas.

The Federal Government contributed $200 million towards building a medical research institute in South Australia. Architect Woods Bagot utilised their global team, working around the clock to develop the design. The Adelaide studio led the project with input from designers in Woods Bagot’s New York and Melbourne studios. Construction started in February 2010.

Watson Fitzgerald & Associates was the successful mechanical services contractor. Peter Spencer one of the company directors, confirmed their involvement in the project well before the construction phase on site.

“Revit BIM software was used throughout the project to ensure the design met the client’s brief, and piping and equipment clashes on site were avoided,” he said. “Fantech’s drawings were available through the Fans by Fantech Selection Program, and could be exported directly to the software program saving us time and effort.

“Another main focus was scheduling of equipment to meet the construction milestone dates. Fantech supplied a variety of fans, including Axial Flows for car park; Smoke Spill and general exhaust systems; centrifugal fans for built up air handling units; and high pressure blowers for the cyclotron (a type of particle accelerator). These were delivered on time helping us to stay on track with project milestones,” he said.

The building has a total floor area of 30,000 square metres, over nine stories. The iconic triangular-panelled façade features sunshades, designed and orientated for optimum thermal and light efficiency. Two internal atria with an interconnecting spiral staircase on the eastern atrium allow a visual connection between floors. The floor space and research modules are flexible and there are: a Molecular Imaging Therapy and Research Unit accommodating a cyclotron; Physical Containment (PC2) and Quarantine Containment Level 2 (QC2) laboratories; a Bio resources laboratory; public spaces; and areas designated for interaction between researchers, public, education and IT.

Peter said the building control systems had been integrated to provide real time measurement of energy and water consumption of the building. Monitoring this data will allow the institute to ensure it operates at optimal efficiency and would have contributed to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating. The USA certification program promotes design and construction practices that reduce the environmental impact and improve occupant health and well-being.

SAHMRI was officially opened on 29 November 2013.


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