South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute—The Pride of South Australia

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group showcases the breathtaking and iconic South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)—adjacent to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site—as a world-class facility for medical research and clinical application.

The research center stands as a shimmering, undulating landmark that the local community is proud to exhibit. Designed by the firm Woods Bagot to attract the best research minds in the world, the brief was to provide a state-of-the-art, unique medical research space to influence and promote collaboration.

Tetra Tech was involved in the initial concept design of this ground-breaking facility, working with architect Woods Bagot to create an elongated bubble-shaped building that appears to float above the ground. The elevated position, upon flower columns, is a design consideration to encourage human interaction and allow public access beneath the building to the parkland beyond.

A bold and innovative consideration is the studded exterior comprised of 6,300 triangular glass panels. These panels accommodate the curves of the building, while hooded cladding provides solar protection and shade—optimizing daylight, reducing glare, and maximizing interior comfort. Inspired by the scales of a pine cone, the hoods cleverly move in and out, adapting to the external environment while responding to internal demands.

The design revolves around a vision of collaboration and this element is evident throughout. Where labs would normally sit on the perimeter of the building, a central location was chosen to open the workspace, and provide transparency and fluidity. Void spaces and a series of interconnecting stairs and bridges similarly provide a vertical and horizontal ‘village’ where the energy of collaboration is palpable.

This is one of the few buildings in the world that houses a cyclotron in the basement. Tetra Tech provided spatial allowances for the various additional exhausts and services to run from the basement to the roof—an achievement in itself considering there is no actual ground floor.

Not only is SAHMRI the first project in South Australia to achieve LEED Gold certification (rare for a facility of this nature), but it is also the first research institution in the world to achieve the level of integration of systems within one building. This was accomplished through Tetra Tech’s introduction of Building Information Modeling (BIM), which provided a 3D modeling platform to ensure the smooth integration of design, services installation, and construction sequence, maximizing energy efficiency and managing stakeholder expectations—all of which were satisfied within this world-class research center.