10 May 23

Australian-first biomedical development designed by Woods Bagot ‘tops out’  

Australian Bragg Centre

Woods Bagot reached an important milestone in the delivery of the Australian Bragg Centre (ABC) – a purpose-built biomedical facility housing Australia’s first and only proton therapy unit – with the building reaching its maximum height.

Principal and project lead Thomas Masullo said it is a watershed moment in the delivery of the groundbreaking medical facility.

“From an urban context, you can now finally see how the mass of the building fits within the streetscape, adjacent to the existing SAHMRI building, and its relationship to the medical boulevard,” says Masullo. “It’s the first time the public can see the true scale of the building and its positive impact on the precinct.”

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton were present for the ceremony, marking the structure has now reached its final height at 74 metres.

Encompassing 32,000 square metres across a 15-level building (12 above-ground storeys and three below-ground “bunker” levels), the ABC is a purpose-built clinical and research facility within Adelaide’s existing health and biomedical precinct, home to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Alongside SAHMRI, Adelaide’s biomedical “city” precinct currently includes the 800-bed Royal Adelaide Hospital, the University of Adelaide Health and Medical Science Building, and the University of South Australia Centre for Cancer Biology. With the addition of the ABC, the precinct will deliver end-to-end care, from research through to treatment.

Australian Bragg Centre

Foyer, Australian Bragg Centre (render)

Australian Bragg Centre

Plaza, Australian Bragg Centre (render)

Australian Bragg Centre

Stair, Australian Bragg Centre (render)

Premier Malinauskus said the establishment of the first proton therapy unit in Australia is not only important for the care it will deliver, but also the quality of oncologists and medical researchers it will attract from around the world.

“Today’s topping out is a great milestone for the state and for the hundreds of patients who will use it every year,” Malinauskus adds.

Located to the east of the SAHMRI building, completed by Woods Bagot in 2013, the complex build has taken three years of construction to reach the topping out stage.

Masullo said the facade design was intended to “complement the existing SAHMRI building, rather than compete with it”, with contoured geometry that creates a unified language between the two buildings.

“The facade of SAHMRI is very articulated, but in the case of ABC, it was more purposeful and restrained, creating a harmonious distinction,” says Masullo. Incorporating glazed glass panels, ABC’s crystalline aesthetic will provide a pleasing counterpoint to SAHMRI’s tessellated diagrid exterior.

Once complete, the ABC building will house the first proton therapy unit (PTU) within the underground levels, offering a form of non-invasive radiotherapy that targets tumours with high-energy, positively charged particles (protons) – a treatment patients currently need to travel to countries such as the United States to receive.

Proton therapy is known as one of the most precise and safest cancer treatments for inoperable tumours, particularly those close to important organs and structures. The accurate and targeted nature of the proton beams means less radiation is delivered to healthy tissue surrounding a tumour, making it a safer treatment method for children and adolescents, whose developing cells are more susceptible to radiation damage.

“Topping out” ceremony on level seven of Australian Bragg Centre with SA Premier Peter Melinauskus, SAHMRI executive director Steve Wesselingh

Above in the Bragg Centre, the “plaza” level will serve as a mediator between the PTU and the dry labs on the upper floors, which will host clinical trials, third-party research tenants and commercial leaseholders.

The design balances requirements for porosity and privacy with a range of public and private spaces, retaining key sightlines and visual connections to its environment, while creating opportunities for quiet solitude.

Timber details, soft tones, rounded corners and natural light are intended to mitigate intimidating and sterile clinical associations, creating a comfortable environment for patients, most of whom will be pediatric or adolescent, invariably experiencing periods of high stress.

The $500-million building is expected to be completed late 2023, with first proton therapy patients admitted around 18 months later.

ABC is developed by Commercial & General in partnership with construction partner Lendlease, funded through a public/private partnership including SAHMRI, C&G, Dexus, and the federal and state governments.


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Isla Sutherland
Content and Communications Specialist (Australia & New Zealand)

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