The Frank Gehry-designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building has topped out.

2 December 2013 — Australia’s first Frank Gehry building has reached a milestone, with the “topping out” of the structure last week.

The University of Technology Sydney’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, described by Gehry as a “crushed paper bag” when unveiled in 2010 and based on the concept of a treehouse, is set to be another iconic piece of architecture for Sydney, and it’s sustainable to boot.

Key sustainability features now unveiled include high-performance glazing, energy-efficient building services, water-efficient fixtures, a 20,000-litre rainwater tank, sustainably sourced timber, 160 undercover bicycle racks and associated end-of-trip facilities.

The building’s sustainability features will also be made visible to people entering the building through digital signage.

The project has been awarded a 5 Star Green Star – Education Design rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, the second university in NSW to receive a rating.

“Sustainability is a driving force for all the building works that UTS is currently doing as part of our City Campus Master Plan,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne. “It’s appropriate then that our highest-profile building should be the first project to receive formal 5 Star Green Star certification.”

Robin Mellon, GBCA’s chief operating officer, said the rating was proof that sustainability could be incorporated into “an architecturally challenging building”.

GBCA’s Robin Mellon and UTS’s Professor Ross Milbourne at the topping out ceremony.

Now the main structure of the building has been complete, contractor Lend Lease has moved onto the construction of the gravity-defying curvilinear brick facade.

“We’re using state-of-the-art construction methods including building information modelling and combining it with traditional artisan techniques in order to deliver this unique Frank Gehry design,” said Murray Coleman, managing director of project management and construction for Lend Lease in Australia.

To complete the facade, brick layers will need to position about 320,000 custom-designed bricks by hand, which will be one of the hardest parts of the construction project. To minimise risk, the design team undertook extensive façade testing with full-size prototypes in both China and UTS’s own specialist civil engineering lab.

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, named after the Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who contributed $20 million to the construction project, will open in mid-2014 at a total development cost of $180 million. The 12-storey building is located in Ultimo and will house the UTS Business School.