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Gold Coast University Hospital wins Engineering Excellence Award

Gold Coast University Hospital in Queensland, Australia

28 November 2014 - The $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) in Queensland, Australia, was awarded one of only five Excellence Awards at the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards, held in Melbourne this week.

Aurecon and Jacobs, as part of the GCUH Engineering Joint Venture (EJV), were commissioned to provide consulting engineering services for the design of the hospital.

The EJV played a leading role in delivering all engineering services, including structural, civil, electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, lifts, fire services, information and communications technology, environmentally sustainable design assessment, traffic engineering and survey services for the tertiary hospital project.

The EJV worked closely with the GCUH project team, key health stakeholders and user groups and the managing contractor and architectural joint venture to achieve a facility which provides a functional, safe and secure environment considerate of patient needs and quality service delivery.

The project consists of six separate buildings, with a total floor space of around 170 000 square metres, providing a world-class facility that integrates patient care, teaching and research.

The 20 hectare site gave the design team unique opportunities to develop precinct-style infrastructure that is able to offer the local community a wider range of public health services than ever before.

Brand new services at the facility include specialist cancer services, cardiac surgery, neurosciences, trauma and neonatal intensive care. The hospital opened on 28 September 2013, and is Australia’s largest health infrastructure development to date.

Two of Aurecon’s other projects – the Richlands to Springfield rail line as part of the TrackStar Alliance in Queensland, and the Adelaide Oval Redevelopment in South Australia – were also finalists in the Excellence Awards.

Sustainability and groundbreaking engineering


With sustainability as an overarching feature, the project was benchmarked against the Green Building Council of Australia's Healthcare Version 1 2009 Green Star rating tool and the key sustainability principles applied. Design has also included a campus infrastructure service that includes dedicated and integrated education and research facilities and a parklands environment.

The GCUH project has made a significant contribution to the local, national and regional economy; with the engineering services procured and systems designed to be maintained in a manner which delivers value for money to the State. The environmentally sustainable design meets State sustainability policies/objectives, including greenhouse gas and peak energy reduction, water conservation and waste minimisation.

• Structural engineering

The southern In-Patient Unit, part of the main building complex, also includes three radiation treatment bunkers which have concrete thicknesses up to 2.4 metres, and supports landscaped courtyards with additional soil and plant loadings of up to 15kPa. The radiation bunkers were constructed from a specific concrete mix that had a low heat of hydration and very low strength gain to minimise internal micro cracking in the thicker sections.

• Fire engineering

The overarching philosophy for the GCUH was to minimise disruption to patients in the event of fire alarm activation. This philosophy was enabled through careful design of the occupant warning system in patient care areas to reduce stress and anxiety in vulnerable occupants and through the adoption of a progressive evacuation strategy to limit patient movement as much as possible.

• Hydraulic engineering

Due to the expansive size of the site involved and to provide resilience of supply, a centralised tank farm has been provided adjacent to the Central Energy Plant (CEP) Building. The potable cold water storage tanks have sufficient capacity to store 480 000 litres, which is sufficient to maintain service for a 24 hours period without top up. Supplying the site in this manner provides the necessary resilience required to support a 750-overnight bed hospital which also serves as post-disaster operations centre, and reduces the peak loads imposed on the incoming mains water supply and infrastructure across the local neighborhood

• Electrical engineering

The EJV designed a highly resilient electrical infrastructure with four incoming High Voltage (HV) feeders from the adjacent supply authority (Energex) 11kV zone substation. Multiple HV rings supply the seven buildings in the health precinct, including nine strategically located substations housing 21 dry type transformers. Four continuously rated 2.5MVA generators complete with remote radiators and 24 hour bulk fuel storage are located in the CEP building and provide automatic standby power at 11kV in the event of utility supply failure.

• Audiovisual design

The AV systems have been designed for clinical and educational applications, including lectures, meetings with presentations, teaching and training, workshops, planning sessions, public relations events and ceremonial events such as awards presentations.

Many of the rooms are used to observe training or real-time activity in another clinical location (such as an operating theatre or resuscitation room). Activities in these rooms may be recorded and kept or broadcast in real time. Presenters or participants have access to high-definition videoconferencing systems to facilitate real-time two-way audio and visual communications. All AV systems across the campus utilise high-definition digital video for camera, display and state-of-the-art signal distribution systems. Control systems with touch panels and keypad user interfaces are provided to automate and simplify the use of the various diverse AV systems.

The successful collaboration of the major project participants, including Gold Coast Health, the managing contractor, architectural joint venture and EJV for a project of this scale and complexity has set the benchmark for the design and delivery of future major building infrastructure projects.

“The breadth of engineering knowledge that was needed to complete such an extensive project shows how remarkable the Gold Coast University Hospital is. We are proud to have played a role in the EJV Venture and the Excellence Award is a testament to the world class expertise and innovation that we are able to provide our clients,” commented Rick Murphy, Associate, Buildings from Aurecon and Project Leader for Aurecon.

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