A NEW ERA FOR QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY LAW

Written on the 9 December 2015

A NEW ERA FOR QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY LAW

THE University of Queensland's landmark Forgan Smith building is undergoing a significant transformation, hoping to establish itself as one of the world's best contemporary education facilities.

The building, which houses the TC Beirne School of Law and has contained the hopes and dreams of around 10,000 law students over the past 66 years, is set for a dramatic refurbishment in 2016.

UQ vice-chancellor and president professor Peter Høj says the 12-month refurbishment will be an exciting rejuvenation of the historic building to bring it into line with the world's best education facilities.

"The aim is to improve the student experience by creating a place of light, learning and collaboration, incorporating the latest technology and facilities," he says.

"The rejuvenation will not affect the beautiful and historic sandstone façade, but will see a dramatic re-modelling of the internal space to create a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility befitting our law school's ranking among the top 50 in the world."

Historic features such as the magnificent red cedar-panelled Moot Court   previously Brisbane's Supreme Court would be preserved and re-installed in the re-modelled facility.

The cost of the work will be met by a combination of University capital works funding and philanthropic donations.

Head of school and dean of law professor Sarah Derrington says the new space is designed to support a major refocusing of the TC Beirne School of Law and would provide a dynamic and inspiring environment for students and teachers.

"Teaching in today's world is a stimulating, interactive and ever-evolving experience," she says.

"In addition, the legal workplace is changing, with more collaborative work practices between younger lawyers and their senior colleagues.

"The new space will include collaborative research spaces and break-out rooms, independent study areas, and facilities for mobile technology, innovative learning, research and academic facilities."

Professor Derrington says philanthropic support would also be sought to establish an endowed scholarship fund.

"As part of the school restructure, we are deliberately reducing our first-year intake to no more than 250 of the best and brightest students, and we are providing them with innovative programs, collaborative learning opportunities and excellent student-to-teacher ratios," she says.

"One of the major hurdles for financially-disadvantaged students is the cost of living while undertaking a full-time degree.

"An endowed scholarship fund will enable our school to offer students scholarships that alleviate the imperative to work to survive."

The rejuvenation, which has been more than a year in the planning, has been designed by BVN Architecture under the guidance of heritage architect Andrew Ladlay.

Forgan Smith - background:

The Forgan Smith building was designed as the visual centrepiece of the University. Construction began in 1938 and was interrupted in 1942 by World War II, when the building was requisitioned by the Australian Army as a headquarters.

Building was completed after the war and Forgan Smith was officially opened in 1949. Australia has  few 1930s-era buildings of its equal, and there are none at any other Australian university.

The two-storey building includes nine sections of sculptured friezes along its parapet, depicting  secondary industries significant in Queensland during the 1930s, with bas-relief carvings on the doorways of each wing depicting historical academic figures.

Notable TC Beirne School of Law alumni include:

  • Hon Paul de Jersey AC QC Queensland Governor
  • Hon Justice Catherine Holmes Chief Justice of Queensland
  • Hon Dame Quentin Bryce, AD CVO former Governor-General of Australia
  • Mary Leneen Forde AC former Queensland Governor
  • Sir Zelman Cowan AK GCMG GCVO PC
  • Catherine Tanna, prominent Australian businesswoman
  • Sir Walter Campbell AC QC former Queensland Governor
  • Sir Francis Gerard Brennan AC KBE QC
  • Justice Patrick Keane
  • Peter Dunning QC Queensland Solicitor General
  • Justice John K Bond
  • John Muir QC
  • Hon Ian Callinan AC QC
  • Sir Harry Talbot Gibbs GCMG, AC, KBE, QC
 

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