One of Melbourne’s most prominent new architectural features, the colourful Swanston Academic Building (SAB), has opened.

Designed by Lyons Architects – led by RMIT architecture alumnus Carey Lyon – and constructed by Brookfield Multiplex, the 35,000 square metre, 11-storey educational facility contains innovative lecture theatres, classrooms and specialist spaces

The $200-million SAB has more than 80 teaching spaces, including lecture theatres, a cinema classroom, project and interactive spaces using state-of-the-art technologies and incorporating the largest virtual desktop initiative in Australia.

It is the largest construction project that RMIT has undertaken and the centrepiece of a  $700 million capital investment program.


The SAB Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said the facility supports the most advanced teaching and learning methodologies.

“This building incorporates world class teaching facilities and vibrant spaces for students and staff in the heart of RMIT’s city campus.”

A central atrium changes shape as it winds throughout the building and creates access via escalators and feature stairs. Images courtesy RMIT.

It was officially launched by Jacques Nasser AO, Chairman of BHP Billiton, one of the University’s most prominent alumni, as well as a generous scholarship donor. He began his illustrious career studying business at RMIT. He received an honorary degree from RMIT in 1997.

“His scholarship program at RMIT rewards excellence and has been instrumental in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in our College of Business students,” Professor Gardner said.

The SAB has a Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) 5-star Green Star Education Rating, signifying Australian Excellence in environmentally sustainable design.

To achieve this, the building has a number of water-efficient and energy-efficient features including displacement ventilation in lecture theatres, mixed-mode ventilation in portals and chilled beams in offices, solar pre-heated domestic hot water, rainwater harvesting and grey water re-use and a high-performance façade with double glazing.

The SAB is a finalist in the upcoming 2013 Australian Construction Achievement Awards (ACAA).

It is possible to take a virtual tour of RMIT’s Swanston Academic Building, the site letting you click to navigate through the building and move to the different floor levels.