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‘la trobe institute for molecular science’ by lyons architects

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‘la trobe institute for molecular science’ by lyons architects

| architect, architects, architecture, architecture critic, Art, buildings, Consulting For Architects, Design, modern architecture, modern buildings, Sculpture | April 06, 2013

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north eastern corner overlooking the northern forecourt. images courtesy lyons, dianna snape, michael evans, nils koenning

the la trobe institute for molecular science (LIMS) by australian lyons architecture is a major new building on university’s bundoora campus, which will meet the school’s long-term needs in terms of student learning and research in the science disciplines. the project seeks a‘transformative’ identity of the campus, which had previously been built within the strict guidelines for materials and heights.

the lower levels of the building accommodate first to third year undergraduate learning spaces – with large open flexible labs (accommodating teaching cohorts for 160 students) connected with ‘dry’ learning spaces. this allows people to move between laboratory based project work, to digital and collaborative learning activities within the adjacent spaces. at ground level, these learning areas breakout to new landscaped interior environments, extending the idea of placing students at the centre of outside social and learning hubs.

the upper three levels of the building are research focused and based around a highly collaborative model. all laboratories are large open flexible spaces where teams are able to work together, or expand and contract according to research funds. these large ‘super labs’ are located immediately adjacent to write-up spaces, allowing a very direct physical and visual connection between all research work sections. the plan includes a major conference room, staff ‘college’ lounge and informal meeting spaces, are also located on the research levels. the design is fully integrated with the adjacent existing structure, which accommodates a number of other lims research staff and laboratories.

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a major stairway rises through the centre of the building, connecting the student and research levels – as a form of representation of the ‘pathway’. the cellular exterior of the building is derived from ideas about expressing the molecular research that is being undertaken within the building, and is adjusted via the materiality of the building itself. the walls are primarily precast concrete, with the cells providing a ‘lower’ and ‘upper’ window into the various spaces, aiding the penetration of daylight. the cellular concept also creates a framework for a number of distinctive spaces for students to occupy or for research staff to meet and collaborate.

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After working at various design practices on a full-time and freelance basis, and starting his own design firm, David McFadden saw that there was a gap to be filled in the industry. In 1984, he created an expansive hub for architects and hiring firms to sync up, complete projects, and mutually benefit. That hub was Consulting For Architects Inc., which enabled architects to find meaningful design work, while freeing hiring firms from tedious hiring-firing cycles. This departure from the traditional, more rigid style of employer-employee relations was just what the industry needed - flexibility and adaption to modern work circumstances. David has successfully advised his clients through the trials and tribulations of four recessions – the early 80’s, the early 90’s, the early 2000’s, and the Great Recession of 2007.

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