Celebrating 60 years of the Wallace Wurth Building

27 Mar 2023
Celebrating 60 years of the Wallace Wurth Building

This year, UNSW celebrates 60 years since the Wallace Wurth Building was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1963.

The Wallace Wurth Building was named after UNSW’s first President and later Chancellor, and it originally housed the School of Medicine and School of Biological Sciences. A community of medical researchers and teachers came together in the building to pioneer a foundation of medical education, biomedical research and health delivery in Australia.

The Wallace Wurth Building is now the beating heart of the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS), one of the largest teaching and research schools at UNSW. Over its 60 years, the building has seen multiple schools and centres, with SBMS and the newly formed School of Health Sciences the most recent to find their homes there.

SBMS used the anniversary to reunite current and former students and staff at an afternoon tea in the Wallace Wurth forecourt. More than  100 guests gathered on 15 March, sharing memories of their experiences working, researching, teaching and/or studying within the building. A common theme across conversations was the sense of collegiality, no matter the discipline nor the period.

Among the guests was Emeritus Professor Terry Campbell. At 13 years old, he witnessed the opening of the building, no doubt unaware that 43 years later he would become the Deputy Dean of Medicine (2006-2017). Other esteemed guests included Emeritus Professors Carol Geczy, Dennis Wakefield, Nick Hawkins and Liz Burcher.

Professor Jake Baum, Head of SBMS, welcomed the guests. He spoke of the history of the land, dating back way beyond the foundations of the building, to the Bidjigal and Gadigal communities and the unbroken chain of Indigenous connection to the land.

“No doubt they were the first educators and researchers, sharing and developing traditions in health and medicine many thousands of years before us,” said Prof. Baum.

As well as reflecting on the past, an anniversary is also a reason to look forward. A bridge being built between the new Health Translation Hub, the Randwick Health Innovation Precinct and the Wallace Wurth Building will be a physical link between UNSW and a world-class biomedical precinct.

“The future of biomedicine is at an extremely exciting juncture, with global impact research, world-class education and the continued delivery of health innovations for all Australians on the horizon,” said Prof. Baum.

Here’s to another 60 years of pioneering biomedicine at UNSW.