During a visit to Ormond College recently, we had the privilege of a very private tour around the campus.

Director of College Advancement Ann Badger took an intimate group of us around the grounds, and proudly showcased the new learning center.

Ann showed us the light drenched lobby of the Academic Centre, where she pointed out some of the features special to the space, the focus of which was in allowing as much natural light in. This included the specially-designed bookshelves in the library upstairs, shaped to maximize on the concept to allow natural light to stream through to the extensive modern library.

Keeping history at heart, the Centre is flavored throughout with adaptations of the heritage-listed MacFarland building, originally designed and completed in 1968 by architects Roy Grounds, Frederick Romberg, and Robin Boyd.

Artistically executed by architects McGlashan Everist in conjunction with learning environment expert Associate Professor Peter Jamieson and the Master of Ormond, Associate Professor Rufus Black, this redesign of the Academic Centre has won the National Award for Heritage at the 2012 Australian Architecture Awards hosted by the AIA in Perth.

On a larger scale, Ormond College itself was originally designed by Reed and Barnes, and its Victorian Gothic architecture speaks loud and clear of the heritage and history surrounding it.

Throughout the tour, we learnt that all the modern buildings were designed by Grounds, Romberg, and Boyd during the 1950s-60s and were painstakingly ensured to meet the same architectural and functional qualities of the original buildings, constructed in November 1879.

In the upgrade of the campus, it was important that this heritage and historical aspect was kept intact.

Over the years, Ormond College also commissioned architect Lovell Chen to provide heritage advice and architectural services. Areas infused with this expertise include additional student living areas, and the refurbishment of the J.M. Young Room at the college library.

More recently, Lovell Chen was faced with another challenge; to provide student rooms with facilities within 21st century requirements, without impacting on the building’s historic foundation. The solution developed was a concept design called the ‘Transformer’.

Peppered throughout the building, these little but functional accommodation quarters proved an aesthetic blend of artistic and architectural execution.

And the piece de resistance, proved to be the Grand Dining Hall where students gather each evening for announcements by the fireplace, accessible by way of a vestibule, an addition some twenty years after the original building.

Text: Nina Mostafa
Images: James Ser

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