Project Update: Sir Samuel Griffith Centre

Installing the glass screen

The Sir Samuel Griffith Centre (SSGC) is a $40 million world class building currently under construction at Griffith University’s Nathan campus. The building was designed by Cox Architecture and construction is being overseen by Watpac. The facility will have 4000m² of usable floor area across six levels, and will house approximately 60 academic/research staff and a number of support staff. It will also provide a number of lecture theatres, seminar rooms and collaborative areas. The SSGC has been awarded a coveted 6-star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), and will be Australia’s first off-grid, self-powering teaching and research facility. The building will cement Griffith University’s reputation as a leader in Environmental Science.

Building FeaturesThe large glazed screen

To achieve its 6 star green rating, the SSGC has a number of energy efficient features. The need for artificial lighting has been reduced by large windows, few internal walls, and glass partitions. The dominant feature of the building is the large glazed screen that makes up one side of the façade. Combined with photovoltaic cells on the roof and a state of the art battery & hydrogen energy storage system the building will be self-powered.

Photovoltaic cells will convert sunlight into electricity for use during the day, as well as providing additional storage in batteries, and also through the electrolytic production of hydrogen. The hydrogen is then stored in a stable form as metal hydrides. Battery storage will be used primarily for overnight cooling of water to run the air conditioning systems and hydrogen to supply fuels cells for electricity production on cloudy days. A digital electronic energy management system will maximise the efficiency of energy usage.

G.James’ Role

G.James were engaged to supply, install and glaze six levels of aluminium windows, doors and louvres, as well as the special glass screen. The windows and doors feature energy-efficient low E coated insulated glass units. Frames on the window and door systems have been finished with commercial bronze and matte gold anodising. Matte gold powdercoat was also used to finish some items such as glass screen brackets.

Glazed Screen

The glazed screen features large panels of special clear heat-strengthened laminated glass. The glass panels are 2171×3280 mm or 2171×3540 mm in size and range in thickness from 17.5-21.5mm. In total the glass screen utilises 166 square metres of glass. The screen is supported by a fabricated “spider” steel frame. G.James designed brackets especially for this project to fix the glass to the steel supports.

ChallengesInstalling glass to the screen.

G.James commenced work on site in November 2012 and expects to be finished in May this year. The installation of the glazed screen has required significant manpower and expertise. The installation of the glass to the screen necessitated two cranes with drivers and dogmen, four booms, two special glass suckers, four abseils, eight glaziers, ropes, slings, glass bremners. The geometry of the screen also required glass panels to be installed at angles – no easy task with the glass panels weighing in at several hundred kilograms apiece. Additionally significant labour was required offsite preparing and organising the materials ready for install.

The wet and unpleasant weather Brisbane has experienced over the last few months has presented additional complications, with wind and rain causing work stoppages. Road closures and equipment failure were also challenges G.James had to overcome during the install. The fixers and crews who worked on this project deserve praise for their great work on a difficult assignment.

Looking Ahead

The building is expected to be completed in June this year, G.James is looking forward to see this exciting building open.

Project focus: ABC Brisbane HQ

The Project

Opened in April by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce, the new ABC Headquarters is a fitting addition to Brisbane’s Southbank. Designed by Richard Kirk Architects, and constructed by Leighton Contractors, the new headquarters has a 15,435sqm gross floor area, and stands four stories tall above ground, with a basement. The building has achieved a five star rating under the Green Star system. It presently hosts approximately 450 ABC staff, as well as members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The previous ABC headquarters was closed in December 2006 after a widely publicised (and still unexplained) breast cancer cluster. ABC staff spent the next several years working from a number of locations in Brisbane, the construction of this new facility re-unites them at a single location once again. Construction of the building wasn’t all smooth sailing – work was interrupted when the site was flooded in the floods of January 2011.


G.James was contracted to supply and install the Window wall, shop front and studio glazing and sun shades on the west face of the building. Most of glazing uses IGUs with Super Neutral 365 & Crystal Grey glass panels, to provide a clear view to the outside. The window wall was quite deeply recessed into the building in order to reduce the amount of direct sunlight entering. Internal blinds as well as the prominent external sunshade are also used to contol the large amount of light allowed to enter the building.

The studio at Northeast corner of the building features a frameless glass outer skin, using 12.38mm Optilight clear laminated glass, and suspended with steel bracket. There is an air way at the top and bottom for accoustic & thermal control. To satisfy acoustic requirements for the radio studio, all internal window wall frames were stuffed with insulation. The installation of studio outer skin was a particular challenge – the glass is held on just by the tip of the steel bracket and glass fin.

The glass wall above the main building entrance is another interestingly glazed feature. The wall was constructed using 50 mm x 200 mm aluminium box section with another T section bracketed to the concrete slab as framework. The IGUs used for this feature were site glazed.

Find out More

For more information on our commercial project capabilities, contact our commercial contracting division. Our monumental projects and louvre and sunshade photo galleries may also be of interest.

Turning the new BCEC stunning entry into reality

BCEC on Grey Street

BCEC on Grey Street, Southbank, Brisbane

The new Grey Street addition to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre at South Bank has recently been opened.

Designed by specialist convention architects Cox Rayner, this dramatic construction includes a five story sky-lit atrium and a façade consisting of 85% glass. Façade engineering was carried out by Arup, and G.James were responsible for the façade supply and installation.

The 25,000 m² expansion on the existing structure has added 50% more convention space, and BCEC is now comparable in size to Australia’s largest convention centre. In addition to aesthetic concerns, the building was designed with the environment in mind – achieving a 5 star green equivalent rating.

More information and further photos of the facility are available on the BCEC website. Let us know what you think of the new façade in the comments below!