Watpac to build $30m Cairns Innovation Centre

Watpac has won a $24 million contract to deliver the James Cook University Cairns Innovation Centre.

The company said the project was expected to support a workforce of 75 people, with preference to be given to local suppliers and subcontractors wherever possible.

Works will start this month with an anticipated completion date of July 2020.

The $30 million Cairns Innovation Centre is funded by $10 million from the Australian Government and $10 million from the Queensland Government, with the balance contributed by JCU.

The building’s design has been led by Wilson Architects and Clarke and Prince Architects along with a sub-consultant team.

The construction project includes a three-storey multi-functional building in addition to a separate single-storey ancillary/support building with a gross floor area of about 3546sq m.

JCU Cairns Campus director David Craig said the Cairns Innovation Centre would be a place where businesspeople, entrepreneurs, community organisations, researchers, educators and students could work and learn from each other.

“It will foster a culture of entrepreneurship and catalyse and accelerate the translation of research and new business ideas into products and services that are in high demand in northern Queensland and beyond,” he said.

“The three-storey building will house JCU’s innovative Internet of Things program, and will nurture a new generation of students and young graduates who can engage deeply with industry and business via work-integrated learning, and apply innovative technologies in established industries and drive start-up businesses in emerging industries.”

Watpac Construction northern area manager Bryan Glancy said the project would benefit from the group’s long history delivering projects in Northern Queensland.

“Watpac is well-established in Northern Queensland, with the team having operated in Townsville for over 20 years delivering over $1 billion of projects in the region during this time,” Mr Glancy said.

“The Watpac team will bring extensive local knowledge combined with industry expertise to ensure we deliver another high-quality project for our client James Cook University.”

The building will feature a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) mesh fabric façade screen that will enable audiovisual projection. Internal features include a three-level atrium with glazed/planter screen and stairs.

Other works include building a covered walkway connecting the new Cairns Innovation Centre with the adjacent Cairns Institute Building, as well as new site access and roadway, connection of services to the existing campus and landscaping.

Watpac will also undertake demolition of the existing carpark and associated civil works.

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