Professor Peter Shergold never imagined he would ever have a building named after him when he first came to Australia in 1972.
“But if I did, I would want it to have three things: that it was a modern building likely to win awards, that it was set in the heart of Sydney and that it be a university building opened up for others to enjoy,” the Western Sydney University chancellor said.
He was the man of the moment on Wednesday when the university’s new Parramatta CBD campus was officially opened by Premier Gladys Berejiklian. The Peter Shergold Building recognises the chancellor’s outstanding leadership and career at the highest levels of the Australian public service.
The university’s $220.5 million, 14 storey flagship campus has been used by 10,000 students since January. It marks the completion of the first phase of the $2 billion Parramatta Square redevelopment – the largest urban renewal project in Australia. It was built in partnership with Charter Hall, John Holland and Parramatta Council.
“A campus is more than just bricks and mortar,” vice-chancellor Professor Barney Glover said.
“The best ones challenge the limits, which is happening in Parramatta Square. We’re blurring the lines between theory and practice and we’re doing that deliberately. One person who encapsulates this belief is Peter Shergold, who has championed the commitment to transform lives through education.”
Charter Hall chief executive David Harrison added: “The university has set the bar high for many others to follow suit. As you walk though the campus, you’re reminded of how powerful youthful energy and innovation can be.”
Traditional lecture theatres are nowhere in sight, replaced with smaller, informal learning spaces and studios spread across six floors. Writable walls, computers on wheels, touch screens, screen sharing and video conferencing encourage innovation and interaction.
A digital way finding system called the Campus Navigator provides real-time updates on everything from students’ classroom timetable and available computers, to weather forecasts and the next bus, train or ferry arrival.
“I’d like to think this is a building that will create new lives,” Professor Shergold said. “I want students to interrogate and question the world, continue to learn as they build their careers and to seize opportunities.”
Pricewaterhouse Coopers and government agency WaterNSW will move into the building this year.