A noteworthy construction
The refurbished Birch Building that you see today has a long and rich history.
Building #35 was constructed in the 60s during a major period of development for The Australian National University (ANU).
It was designed by Eggleston, Macdonald and Secomb. At the time, the building designers were major contributors to a lot of buildings being constructed on campus. It was built by Civil & Civic, with construction completed in 1967.
Origins in Chemistry
‘Project C’ emerged from a hockey field as a beautiful and technically efficient building comprised 120,000 square feet.
It was intended to house the Research School of Chemistry and provide a centre of excellence, equipped to the most modern standards with sophisticated instruments. From the outset, the School was concerned not only with in the results of pure research, but in providing a very advanced training ground for leaders, experts, researchers, and policymakers.
The original floorplan for the Research School of Chemistry Building consisted of a core of service laboratories that had specific requirements, especially those which required temperature control, surrounded by an outer ring of additional labs and offices.
The Birch facilities were fitted for analysis, low temperature work, toxic preparations, radioactive synthesis and measurement. There was a fire-proof space and labs with separation equipment, spectrometers, mass spectrometry, and a laboratory for microbiological chemistry.
The original building was opened in 1967 by Lord Todd of Trumpington, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1957.
Building 35 was a single storey rectangular structure with expressive concrete ‘fins’ and metal parapet. Its exterior features include brown face bricks, a metal parapet, and clear anodised aluminium windows. Inside there are painted floor slabs, terrazzo tiles in the foyer, and exposed concrete waffle slab ceilings. The walls are marble clad or painted block, and the vinyl floor tiles line the building.
The northern Liquid Store was added to the main building in 1983. In 1983 a liquid store was added to the north face of the building and in 1994 the David Craig extension was completed.
The building was renamed in honour of Arthur Birch at a ceremony in August 1995, which he attended just before his 80th birthday.
Following a major refurbishment project in 2021, Birch Building #35 today forms part of the significant ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics footprint on the University’s Acton campus.
Birch Building stories: QR code scavenger hunt
Discover more fun facts and stories behind the ANU Birch Building with the scavenger hunt.