'Nothing was flat, everything was triangulated'
As a demonstration of the breadth of ability that Rendine Constructions can apply to any project, it's hard to go past the Douglas Boyd Learning Centre at Marcus Oldham College.
The company's most audacious education project to date is also its most spectacular, a three-level learning hub completed in 2019 at a cost of $10.5 million.
“The college wanted to make a statement about their commitment to 21st century agriculture and preparing students for the future. The building had to tell this story and provide a space to teach in the 21st century,” says Rendine Constructions General Manager, Michael Thornton.
With this overarching mission statement, Rendine worked for fellow Geelong-based architecture firm 3iD Architecture, which devised a stunning façade projecting the College's “story”. Inside, a hub of academic activity includes classrooms, large learning spaces, a multipurpose space featuring tiered seating, additional breakout and meeting rooms, an IT hub and reading area, all set over three levels with overhead walkways interconnecting different zones. The project was completed by extensive landscaping works.
The complexity of the brief meant that its steel structure actually took longer to draw than it did to fabricate and erect. “All major construction decisions had to be made correctly at the shop drawing stage, the glass curtain wall had to be detailed within the steel structure, the mechanical system had to be understood and fit within the steel skeleton, service runs and ducts considered, block work and suspended slabs understood and allowed for,” Michael recalls.
“All this early thought meant only two cleats had to be changed on-site, and the structure went up faultlessly.”
The auditorium provided another significant challenge, with aesthetics, acoustics and technology all rated as critical elements by the client. “The major aesthetic element also contributed to acoustic performance, a stepped metal tile ceiling raking in two directions,” Michael says, adding that hours of thought, plus many meetings with the architect and supplier, were necessary to achieve a faultless finish.
“It was a pretty amazing build, because of the complexity. Nothing was flat, everything was triangulated,” Michael says. “We worked with materials that had some inherent difficulties in those situations, and produced an amazing result.”
The rich history of the College, established in Geelong in 1962, is displayed throughout the new Learning Centre, which showcases the agricultural, equine and farm management achievements of the only private agricultural college in the country.
The centre stands as a tribute to the architect's vision and the can-do attitude of Rendine Constructions, which embraced the highly complex design brief as an opportunity to demonstrate our extensive capability accumulated across 47 years delivering commercial and education construction projects across Geelong, metropolitan Melbourne and Western Victoria.
“We always strive to work with our client,” Michael says. “The construction site was located in the centre of a busy campus, so we needed to ensure that the least possible disruption for students and staff. We're extremely conscious of minimising our influence on site users.
“With that in mind, we're extremely proud of the result.”