An architectural gem on the horizon

A long and winding road persists regarding McBride Charles Ryan's intriguing design for Monash University's new state-of-the-art teaching and learning centre located within the Caulfield campus' Western Precinct. Although The Law Business and Economics Complex (LBEC Building) is still on track, construction remains at least one year away.

Post the 2012 announcement of McBride Charles Ryan successfully snaring the commission, the intended project program has progressed to the point where approved design development is due this month. With the development's progression tied to a major fundraising campaign, construction tenders are tentatively due early next year with early works potentially beginning April 2015 according to project consultant Citylab.

Project Summary

  • Monash University Law Business and Economics Complex (including MBA)
  • 10 levels, 28,000 sqm space
  • Target = 6-star Greenstar As-Built rating
  • Western Plaza including 3000 sqm of retail outlets
  • Total project cost approximately $150 million

External Excess

The design was submitted to the 2013 World Architecture Festival under the Future Project Category. The World Buildings Directory carries the following excerpt describing the exteriors:

Monash LBEC complements this assemblage with an entire building as a beautiful wall. The complex mediates the interface with Dandenong Road with a highly formed and articulated concrete panel cladding, protecting the northern aspect from acoustic and thermal considerations in a play of lightness and solidity. Facing the pedestrianised public realm of the Western Plaza, the wall exhibits a 3-dimensional complexity: it is permeable and fragmentary.

At the western interface, the meshing of these two conditions integrates the heritage facades along Derby Road, providing Monash Caulfield with a street front address, as well as signifying a memorable ‘gateway’ to the precinct – a sentinel in the suburbs – acknowledging passing traffic and facing the Melbourne CBD.

Warning: Contains Architecture Lingo

Of the internal layout, one can only assume the architect provided this description:

Activities within the complex are distributed according to their preferred aspect and temporal considerations. The planning is distributed around four atria aiding passive ventilation of the internal environment. Two of these are located at the periphery of the complex and act as an environmental buffer to the adjacent office environments.

Facing and north and west (respectively), these atria incorporate shading and glazing strategies to harness the heat generated immediately within the building fabric to induce air movement drawn from passively preconditioned sources, assisting greatly with the thermal comfort of users.

The shared learning and teaching spaces are stacked vertically between the faculties, combining formal and informal learning environments and establishing a direct interface with the Western Plaza.

McBride Charles Ryan have the Midas touch permeate all their designs and the LBEC Building is no exception. I'm sure I speak for all when I say just build it already!

Further reading > World Building Directory project page

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