The project

What is the project?

The Coombs Building Refurbishment Project is an infrastructure project designed to transform teaching and working spaces at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. The Project will retain the strong history of the building while ensuring both staff and students have world-class facilities to learn and work.

What is the history of the building?

The iconic Coombs Building was one of the first permanent structures on campus. It was named after Herbert Cole Coombs, Chancellor of the University from 1968 to 1976.

The building was designed by architects Mockridge, Stahle and Mitchell and constructed over nine years from 1960 to 1969. The architects were renowned for their innovative approach to construction and their work on educational buildings across Australia.

Since then, the Coombs Building has been home to many of the world’s leading experts on Asia and the Pacific and thousands of students have passed through its corridors.

What is the project timeline?

The Project commenced in July 2018 and is expected to take two to three years to complete.

The Project is being conducted in three stages:

  • Stage 1 – South Hexagon
  • State 2 – Centre Hexagon
  • Stage 3 – North Hexagon

Refurbished teaching spaces from the South Hexagon will be available for use from Semester 1, 2020. They are expected to be completed in Semester 2, 2019 however there will be no timetabling in place.

Stages 2 and 3 focusing on the Centre and North Hexagons have not yet commenced. Staff affected by Stage 2 will be decanted in July 2019 and those affected by Stage 3 will be decanted in 2020. 

The project is due for completion in 2021.

How will the building change?

The Project will make critical changes to the building including:

  • Refurbished student centre
  • Refurbished tearoom and new common facilities
  • Refurbished and co-located teaching spaces
  • Increased shared working spaces
  • Improved temperature management
  • Improved accessibility, signage and wayfinding
  • New prayer room and family room
  • New maps storage facility

How will the building change?

The Project will make critical changes to the building including:

  • Upgraded student centre
  • Upgraded tearoom and new common facilities
  • Upgraded and co-located teaching spaces
  • Increased shared working spaces
  • Improved temperature management
  • Improved accessibility, signage and wayfinding
  • New prayer room and family room 
  • New maps storage facility

Are there any areas of the Coombs Building which will not change?

Yes, recently refurbished areas will not change. This includes the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL), CartoGIS, School of Culture, History and Language administration and the Lab.

Are any changes not possible?

A number of changes that were requested by staff are not possible including:

  • Upgrades to Coombs Lecture Theatre due to critical teaching space being required to remain unchanged while Union Court redevelopment progresses.
  • Upgrades to shared spaces outside Coombs Building due to impact on Coombs Lecture Theatre.
  • Comprehensive air conditioning, due to insufficient power supply to Coombs Building. There will be some air conditioning in the refurbished building including in the tea room, teaching spaces and shared meeting rooms. In all offices there will be double glazed windows, new insulation and new ceiling fans. The Facilities Services team explored all possible options for other spaces to be air conditioned however a number of significant issues prevented this from being possible including insufficient electrical supply as well as structural limitations.
  • Upgrades to bathrooms due to most bathrooms in Coombs Building being recently refurbished.
  • New wet lab due to new labs being built in ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences which can be used by staff in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. 

Will heritage features of the Coombs Building be retained?

The Facilities Services team as well as the contracted architect and builder have worked closely with the National Capital Authority and heritage consultants to ensure the refurbishment does not adversely impact the heritage of the Coombs Building. Key heritage features including the façade, entrance, tea room and spiral staircases will be preserved.

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Updated:  15 May 2018/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team