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Sydney opens state-of-the-art Susan Wakil Health Building

26 February 2021
Health education & research at Sydney boosted by world-class facilities
The Susan Wakil Health Building, a world-class facility purpose built to support the future health workforce and meet the health challenges of our time, was opened today.

The University of Sydney’s newest state-of-art facility for health education and research, the Susan Wakil Health Building, was officially opened by Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC and NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, the Hon. Brad Hazzard today.

Made possible by the largest-ever gift to the University of $35 million from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation, the Susan Wakil Health Building brings many of the University’s health and medical disciplines together on the Camperdown/Darlington Campus under an ambitious plan to bolster interprofessional learning and multidisciplinary research.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Garton, Isaac Wakil, Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson, Minister Brad Hazzard and David Khedoori at the opening event.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Garton, Isaac Wakil, Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson, Minister Brad Hazzard and David Khedoori at the opening event. 

Located adjacent to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University’s Charles Perkins Centre, the building represents a key strategic step in the University’s response to the current challenges and opportunities facing the health sector.

“The University of Sydney and NSW Health have a long and strong history of working together to deliver world-class health services and research outcomes for the people of NSW. The Susan Wakil Health Building will play another important role in this partnership, crafting a future health workforce focused on collaboration and innovation in healthcare,” said Minister Hazzard.

The impressive building is spread over 8 floors and 21,500sqms incorporating the latest design and technology in simulated clinical learning spaces and state-of-the-art research facilities including a purpose-built climate chamber.

“The opening of the Susan Wakil Health Building during this once-in-a-century global pandemic could not be more timely as it highlights the importance of an agile, innovative and resilient health workforce and the need to think differently to meet the health challenges of our time,” said University of Sydney Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC.

“The best health care happens when teams of professionals work together, and the best discoveries are made when researchers collaborate to address wicked problems. This world-class building has been purpose-built to make that happen. We are immensely grateful to Susan and Isaac Wakil for supporting our vision for multidisciplinary healthcare teaching and research.”

Medicine, nursing and allied health students will study together in the building from March 2021.

The opening of the Susan Wakil Health Building during this once-in-a-century global pandemic could not be more timely as it highlights the importance of an agile, innovative and resilient health workforce and the need to think differently to meet the health challenges of our time.
University of Sydney Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC

“Historically students have learnt within their disciplines but in recent years the University of Sydney has championed interprofessional learning opportunities which allow students to better understand the full range of health professions they will work with during their career. Training so many students together in a state-of-the-art environment has the potential to transform the future health care workforce,” said Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Medicine and Health.

Isaac Wakil commended the University for delivering a remarkable facility for health education and research.

“I congratulate the University of Sydney on having the vision to plan and design this multi-purpose facility that will certainly lead to improved health care in the future. Susan always had the desire to do something meaningful for this country and I am humbled that the building will carry her name,” he said.

Cutting-edge multidisciplinary facilities under one roof

In addition to the modern and spacious multi-purpose general teaching, learning and library areas, some of the state-of-the-art facilities in the new Susan Wakil Health Building include;

  • A range of teaching simulation spaces including 6 hospital wards housing 50 hospital beds with computerised mannequins able to simulate medical events such as a seizure or heart attack; a simulated rehabilitation centre and hospital ward where students engage with actors in simulated case studies; and two apartments simulating a typical home versus a best practice fully accessible environment.
  • A biomechanics lab integrating force plates and the latest motion capture camera technology for research-led teaching in exercise and sport science and human movement.
  • The Thermal Ergonomics Lab featuring a purpose-built climate chamber that allows environmental parameters to be precisely controlled for research and teaching related to heat and health. 
  • Medical imaging suites incorporating 5 X-ray machines, a CT scanner and an ultrasound machine used for specialised teaching.   
  • Sophisticated audio-visual facilities throughout teaching spaces allowing for remote recording, viewing and evaluation of clinical practice to support learning
  • Clinic facilities including a speech clinic and a voice research laboratory and clinic with student-led clinic services available to the public, as well as on-site clinical placements.

About the project

Jugma artwork Susan Wakhil Building launch

The smoking ceremony in front of Judy Watson's juguma, 2020, University Art Collection, UA2020.6.

The building and surrounds, designed by Billard Leece Partnership and Diller Scofidio + Renfro with landscape by Acadia Landscape Architecture, represents a place of innovation, learning and socialisation.

It embodies the University’s Wingara Mura design principles and commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and cultural understanding through its functional spaces such as the Yooroang Garang space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to connect and work, and its design which conceives of the building as an extension of the landscape. The Indigenous connection to the land is incorporated through the theme ‘landscapes heal’ with key plant species chosen for their underlying healing and medicinal elements. As a gateway to the precinct, the new public artwork juguma by artist Judy Watson, sits within a planted landscape that has a direct dialogue with the sculpture. It represents a typical net bag of the region symbolising the practice of gathering plants for healing undertaken by first peoples in this place.

The building’s design focuses on activity and movement promoting stairs over lifts, and socialisation through connected multi-level inside-outside common spaces for students, educators, and researchers to interact.

Michelle Blowes

Media and PR Adviser (Health Sciences)

Ivy Shih

Assistant Media and Public Relations Adviser (Health)

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