Architects announced for $97.9m institute

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr today announced that Lyons have won the prestigious design contract for the $97.9 million La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS).

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Windows are a major feature in the design of the new Institute enabling students and the general public to walk through the facility and watch scientists on show.

Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said the architects had been selected for their brilliant design and ability to address the challenging brief in a contemporary and practical way.

‘The design cleverly brings science into the public eye as well as weaves connections between the existing and new buildings.’


‘The design complements the existing utilitarian, Post-War International style campus designed by Melbourne architecture firm, Yuncken Freeman but provides a modern context that reflects the work of the Institute and the overall aim of developing an economically significant science precinct in Melbourne’s north,’ he added. 


Lyons, a Melbourne-based architectural and urban design practice, won the contract in a selective entry competition. Its recent projects include major commercial buildings, university, education and training facilities. Lyons has been the recipient of numerous architectural awards including the Victorian Architectural Medal, national design awards and national sustainability awards.


The new five star energy efficient Institute will link into the existing science research facilities. It will feature 18 new research laboratories, an equipment barn for the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and advanced microscopy facilities in glass-walled laboratories for public viewing: a 250-seat auditorium for teaching use and public lectures, new teaching facilities; a large public access area as well as a cafeteria.


Professor Johnson said that the joint Commonwealth and University funding for the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences would help drive the University’s international reputation for science research, as well as elevate the University’s ability to earn research income.


‘La Trobe University scientists are known for finding solutions to a whole range of human disease problems including cancer, malaria and autoimmune disease.
‘The interdisciplinary nature of the Institute will provide a new focus for this critical biosciences work,’ he said.


At least 220 extra research positions will be available once the building is open, addressing a critical shortage of bioscientists in Australia.


‘We anticipate the University to earn an extra $10m each year in research income, contributing to our already outstanding reputation for performing world-class research,’ said Professor Johnson.


In 2008, La Trobe University was ranked 11th in Australia for competitive National Health and Medical Research Council grants, ahead of all universities without a medical school.  


During construction over 800 direct and indirect jobs will be created. The new LIMS building will officially open in 2013. 


After launching the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences, Senator Carr also opened the LIMS Cell Death and Cancer Symposium, a one-day conference bringing together researchers on cell death from Australia and New Zealand.

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Mark Pearce
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