ANU - High Performance Computing Facility Complex Construction

ClientAustralian National University

LocationActon, ACT

Shaw Building Group was selected as the Construction Manager for the construction of the High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF). The building of approximately 4,000m2 is located on the Acton campus of the Australian National University. It is sited adjacent to significant eucalypts (size and historical importance to the ANU) and near the John Curtin School of Medical Research Building and Sullivans Creek. The project commenced construction in July 2011 and was completed in October 2012. The budget was $25.3M (incl GST).

The completed facility is recognized as home to the most powerful computer system available to researchers in Australia, and is ranked number 24 in the world on the “TOP500” list of best supercomputers. The result was announced at the SC12 Supercomputing Conference held recently in Salt Lake City, USA.

The following areas have been incorporated into the HPCF project:

  •  ‘Supercomputer’ room, including space for future expansion
  • Significant Plantroom areas
  • Office accommodation including 34 open plan work points and 5 executive offices
  • Reception
  • Boardroom facilities
  • Meeting and quiet room facilities
  • Staff breakout facilities

The engineering design was very complex and while the new building is largely plantroom, it was important that the external appearance did not reflect an industrial complex. Zinc cladding was used on the façade and the result produced a building that responds well to the site and its surroundings. There were a number of challenges associated with the zinc cladding installation and detailing that needed to be resolved to achieve the required level of quality in the finished product.

Outstanding Construction Features and Workmanship

There were a number of outstanding construction features implemented in the HPCF project including:

  • External Zinc Cladding – the zinc cladding provides a unique finish that visually alters according to the light quality and temperature conditions. It was used on the building to achieve the architect’s design vision of a ripple effect to give the building a sense of life or dynamics.
  • Precast Concrete Panels – The decorative external precast concrete panels achieved a high quality finish. Their use in various areas on the external facade creates visual interest and contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the building.
  • High overall quality of construction and finishes – this is a reflection on the supervision and quality control of the Shaw project team. A large part of the success of the project lies with the local sub-contactors we engaged on the project and their willingness to work with the Shaw Building Group team. They took pride in the delivery of their respective trades and worked with us to achieve the required level of finishes that are evident throughout the building.


2013 AIB – Professional Excellence Award for Commercial Construction $10m to $50m

2013 AIB – Professional Excellence Award for Commercial Construction $10m to $50m – Certificate of high commendation