Main Menu

Campus Development Exhibition

In 2007 the University Archives created an exhibition on the development of the UNSW Kensington Campus, which was on display in the University Library from November 2007 - February 2008. Here is an on-line version of that original exhibition.

For more information on the development of the university campus, please contact the Archives.

 
 
 
 
       
 
 
 


Kensington Site 1890s - 1940s
 
Aerial view of the area encompassing the Kensington Racecourse, Randwick Municipal Golf Links and Randwick Oval,
while the army was in occupation, 1943.
(UNSW Archives CN551)
 
Over time the area now belonging to the university has undergone many changes.  The lower campus once held the Kensington Racecourse, which was primarily used for pony racing from 1893 - 1942.  During the Boer War and World Wars I and II, it was taken over as a military camp, while a migrant hostel was located there in the late 1940s.  The White House, Old Tote and Fig Tree Theatre buildings are remnants of some of the site's earlier incarnations, while ANZAC Parade is named in memory of the soldiers of the First Australian Imperial Force (later to become known as ANZACS), who marched from the camp down to Sydney harbour from where they were transported to action in World War I.
 
 
Map of the area encompassing the Kensington Racecourse and surrounding area, 1934. The portion highlighted in red indicates the first portion of land vested in the university in 1952.
(UNSW Archives S1891/53)
 
The land of the upper campus was once leased for quarrying.  In 1903 it was transferred to Randwick Council for recreational use.   The Council filled and levelled an area which became known as Randwick Oval and which now holds the Morven Brown, Library and Chancellery buildings. The area now occupied by the Wallace Wurth School of Medicine and Biological Sciences buildings was used as a golf course - the Randwick Municipal Golf Links.
 
 
Racegoers inspect the ponies and analyse the form during a meeting at Kensington Racecourse, c. 1896.
(UNSW Archives 99A76)
 
The NSW Bushmen's Contingent camped at Kensington Racecourse prior to departing Sydney for the South African War, 1900.
(Government Printer, UNSW Archives CN70)
 
 

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1949 - 1959
 
 
Looking towards the university campus with the corner of Anzac Parade and High Street in the foreground, 1958.
(UNSW Archives CN468/10)
 
On 1 July 1949 the University of New South Wales, the State's second university, was incorporated as the then New South Wales University of Technology.  The Foundation Stone for the first permanent building to be constructed on campus - now known as the 'Old Main Building' - was set on 25 February 1950 and the building was officially opened on 16 April 1955.  While the university held its first classes in 1948, teaching originally took place at the Sydney Technical College buildings in Ultimo.  In 1952 most of the university's administrative functions moved to Kensington and some teaching began here in 1953.  It was however not until the late 1960s that university classes finally ceased at Ultimo.
 
The site of the lower campus was vested in the university in two lots in December 1952 and June 1954, while the upper campus was vested in the university in November 1959.  The latter provided an important additional 10.1 hectares of space for the future growth of the university and brought the total area of the Kensington campus to close to 40 hectares.
 
Other key buildings to be completed on the Kensington campus during this period were the Dalton Building and Basser College.
 
The first permanent building under construction:
with view towards the corner of Barker Street and Anzac Parade, 1950.
(Government Printer, UNSW Archives CN944/20)
The university campus in 1954, viewed from Anzac Parade.
(Government Printer, UNSW Archives CN945/38)
 

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1960 - 1964
 
 
Aerial view of the campus from Botany Street:
showing the Randwick Municipal Golf Links and Randwick Oval in the foreground, c. 1960.
(UNSW Archives CN551)
 
The early 1960s saw the beginnings of a building boom across the Kensington campus. The Report by the Committee of Inquiry into the Future of the Australian Universities, known as the Murray Report, had been instrumental in the Australian Government greatly increasing its funding of university infrastructure and as a result construction work began on many new buildings.  The young university could not have expanded so quickly without this growth in Commonwealth funding.
 
Key buildings to be completed in this period include the Roundhouse, the Wallace Wurth School of Medicine and Biological Sciences buildings, the Webster Building, the Robert Heffron Building, Goldstein College, the Electrical Engineering building and the Mechanical Engineering building.
 
 
 
A game of rugby between Medicine II and Medicine III played on Randwick Oval
with the Wallace Wurth School of Medicine
and School of Biological Sciences Building in the background, 1963.
(Photographer: D. Smith, UNSW Archives CN944/194)
 
View of the Main Walkway from Anzac Parade,
July 1964.
(Photographer: Max Dupain, UNSW Archives CN122/194)

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1965 - 1969
 
 
Aerial view looking south-east showing mid-campus development on the right
and the Wallace Wurth School of Medicine and the Biological Sciences buildings on the left, 1966.
(UNSW Archives CN945/1)
 
As the building boom continued, the years 1965 - 1969 were busy ones for construction work on both upper and lower campus.  A large number of buildings were finished during this time, which dramatically changed the face of the campus over a very short period.
 
Key buildings completed in this period include the Central Lecture Block, the John Goodsell Building, Library Stage I, the Blockhouse, the Chancellery, the Civil Engineering building, the Morven Brown building, Philip Baxter College, the Architecture building, International House, New College and the Applied Science building.
 
 
Construction of the Chancellery viewed from the forecourt of the Library, 1966.
(Photographer: John Garth, UNSW Archives CN122/288)
 
View from the top of Engineering Road to Anzac Parade
across Engineering Plaza,
along Architecture Road and the Main Walkway, 1967.
(Photographer: Max Dupain, UNSW Archives CN945/9)

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1970s
 
An aerial view of the UNSW campus which looks east over Randwick
towards the coast and shows buildings and grounds on both sides of Anzac Parade, April 1978.
(Photographer: Peter Pockley, UNSW Archives CN1122)
 
The next decade saw the creation of the first master plan for the campus, which was released by the University Architect in 1976.  At the time the proposals were summarised as providng "more trees, more grassed quadrangles, new buildings but no more towers, more covered ways and courtyards, some demolition, better movement patterns for people and cars and more parking stations".
 
Key buildings to be completed during this period include the Gymnasium, the Sir John Clancy Auditorium, the Squarehouse, Warrane College, the Mathews building, Shalom College, Geography & Surveying building and Library Stage II.
 
 
View from the Wallace Wurth School of Medicine across to the Sir John Clancy Auditorium.
 The area occupied by the greenhouses is now part of the Michael Birt Gardens, 1970.
(Photographer: Max Dupain, UNSW Archives 98A1/10)
 
Students relax on the Library Lawn while Stage II of the Library,
seen in the background, nears completion, 1975.
(Photographer: Dick Rangott, UNSW Archives CN945/10)

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1980s
 
 
An aerial view of the campus, October 1981.
(Qasco, UNSW Archives 98A41)
 
The 1980s were a quiet decade for new construction on campus, but much forward planning occurred behind the scenes.  In 1984 the campus master plan was updated and in the same year the Campus Life & Environment Committee produced a report on enhancing the general campus milieu.   
 
In 1987 significant steps towards the re-development of the campus were put into motion.  In February of that year a Campus Development Advisory Group was set up by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Birt to provide advice "on matters affecting site development and beautification".  The group's first task was consideration and revision of the 1984 master plan.  On their recommendations, David Chesterman was appointed as consultant to produce a new master plan.
 
Key buildings completed in this period include the Swimming Pool and the Australian Graduate School of Management building.
 
 
View from the Heffron building, now the Australian School of Business, across the huts
to the Electrical Engineering building, with the Basser Steps to the left. 
Most of this area is now occupied by the Quadrangle.  1980.
(Photographer: G. M. Downie, UNSW Archives CN1127/3)
 
View along the Main Walkway near the Applied Science
building, c. 1980s.
(University Photographer, UNSW Archives 98A1/10)

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 1990s
 
 
Aerial view of UNSW campus from the corner of High Street and Anzac Parade towards Coogee, 1999.
(Facilities, UNSW Archives 07/181/3)
 
In June 1990 the new Campus Development Plan was approved by Council.  A key feature of the master plan was the landscaping and pedestrianisation of the campus, with many campus roadways to be closed to vehicles for the first time and the corresponding development of pedestrian precincts.  By May 1994 one hundred separate projects had been officially commenced under the various refurbishment, landscaping and new building works that were part of the Campus Development Strategy - and there were many more to follow by the end of the decade.  From 1992 the work took place under the guidance of Vice-Chancellor Professor John Niland, who was consequently nicknamed "John the Builder".
 
Key buildings completed during this period include the Samuels building, the Vallentine Annexe, the Quadrangle Building, the Red Centre and the Scientia, later renamed the John Niland Scientia.
 
 
Looking from Chancellery Walk over a section of the Michael Birt Gardens,
which are named after the late Emeritus Professor Michael Birt,
UNSW Vice-Chancellor from 1981-1992, 1993.
(Photographer: Tony Potter, UNSW Archives 98A1)
 
View along the University Mall with the Red Centre on the right,
the Sir Robert Webster Building on the left, and showing refurbishment work
and the construction of The Scientia Building in the distance, c. 1998.
(University Photographer, UNSW Archives 07/181/6)

^  Back to top  ^


Kensington Campus 2000 - 2007
 
 
An aerial view of the UNSW campus looking from Anzac Parade, 2005.
(Facilities)
 
In June 2005 the Campus 2020 Master Plan was endorsed by Council.  The plan provides a blueprint for the development of the campus until the year 2020. Sustainable development, improvement in cross-disciplinary interaction and ease of movement around campus are some of the key elements of the plan - thus ensuring that re-development of the campus will continue into the future.
 
Key buildings completed in this period include the Rupert Myers Building and the Law Building, while construction began on the Lowy Cancer Research Centre.
 
 
The Millennium Sundial being added to the Quadrangle Tower, 2001.
(Photographer: W. Kearsley, UNSW Archives 04/48)
 
Looking up the Main Walkway towards construction on the Dalton building
in the far distance, with the Law Building on the left
and at centre the renovated Chemical Sciences Building, 2007.
(Photographer: William Lao, UNSW Archives 08/220)


^  Back to top  ^