A new life begins for one of Hobart’s most iconic buildings

Construction has begun at Hobart’s iconic Forestry building, which will be restored and given new life as an inner-city hub for learning, research and collaboration over the next two years.

The domed building, which has been vacant for many years, will be home to the University of Tasmania’s College of Business and Economics and Law School as well as administrative offices. When complete, the building will house 300 staff and support the studies of 3000 students.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black said the $131 million project would provide improved, contemporary and more accessible facilities for students and staff, give the community access to a beautiful piece of year-round green space in the heart of the city and support a vibrant Hobart.

“We are proud to be making this significant investment in educational facilities for students and staff, and in the capital city we all share, through the restoration of an important piece of Hobart’s architecture,” Professor Black said.

“As central business districts around the world adapt to the changes wrought by the global pandemic, our hope is that the University of Tasmania can play a positive role in supporting a vibrant, thriving future for Hobart by creating high quality civic spaces that are hubs for students, staff and the community and bring life into the city.”

Executive Dean of the College of Business and Economics Professor Stuart Crispin said the central business district was the ideal location for the college.

“This new hub will be close to transport, jobs, shops and services and brings business, law and economics education and research into the heart of the city allowing increased collaborations with our partners as we work to solve real problems for real people,” Professor Crispin said.

This project will set new standards in sustainable architecture with more than 40 percent less embodied carbon than comparable buildings and a comprehensively circular approach to all the materials used in the building.

Designed by renowned architectural practice Woods Bagot, the project will be completed by leading construction firm Hansen Yuncken, which recently built the Hedberg and is also restoring and renovating the historic Philip Smith Centre on the Domain, the University’s original home.

At its peak, 180 trades people will be working on the site on any one day, with up to 20 percent of them being locally employed apprentices.

Hansen Yuncken Project Manager Alex Gorton said the company was pleased to be continuing its relationship with the University of Tasmania to deliver this major project for the State.

“We are thrilled to be involved in the delivery of this iconic project, continuing our longstanding relationship with the University of Tasmania. With a strong focus on sustainability, we look forward to bringing to life this truly world-class design,” Mr Gorton said.

As well as providing facilities for students and staff, the project will also restore the living forest to the heritage listed dome, creating a new inner-city park and thoroughfare between Melville and Brisbane Streets for the community.

Celebrated Tasmanian architect Robert Morris-Nunn designed the award-winning 1990s renovation of the historic building and said he was thrilled it would now be part of the University of Tasmania’s campus.

“Seeing the building fall into disuse was really sad,” Mr Morris-Nunn said. “It’s been truly amazing for the building to become part of the University and to know that it will be renovated, the forest replanted, and the space filled with students and given back the life it should have had.”

The City of Hobart approved the Development Application for the restoration last year. Works are expected to take two years to complete with staff and students to be using the building in 2025.

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