ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt welcomed ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Health and Higher Education Meegan Fitzharris to campus on Tuesday for a special preview of the new Kambri Precinct. The group toured the construction site, inspecting the new student accommodation, events and cultural building, the site for the new swimming pool and medical centre as well as the state-of-the-art teaching and learning building.
The Chief Minister congratulated ANU and the project team on the scope of the development and said he looked forward to it opening new activity between Canberra's City West and the ANU campus.
"ANU is a pivotal institution and central to the Canberra story," Minister Barr said. He said the improvements were a great addition to the campus and he was almost tempted to come back to ANU as a mature age student.
"It really highlights the importance of the University wanting to invest in the student experience, wanting to provide world-class facilities for staff, students and visitors. Aside from the economic contribution, there is a massive social and cultural contribution that is made by our university sector into this community. This project opens that up to even further growth and opportunity for Canberrans - to be part of the ANU campus experience, and that's a wonderful thing. This will be a welcoming place and a wonderful contribution to the city of Canberra."
Kambri will open to the public in early 2019. The new precinct at the heart of ANU is designed to weave seamlessly into Canberra's civic centre, and become part of the fabric of the town centre. Professor Schmidt said the new ultra-modern urban hub represented a $260 million dollar investment in the university's future and would include shops, eateries and wellbeing facilities open to the public.
"For students it will improve accessibility, including the provision of key services in the one place and accommodation for 450 students," he said. "It will be attractive to people from around Australia and around the world. My ambition is to make sure that any student who wants to come here has the facilities and infrastructure to enjoy the full residential campus experience."
Professor Schmidt said he was excited to partner with the ACT Government to host the first ACT Innovation Festival, announced in the latest budget. "The festival will be hosted at ANU and bring the best and brightest from Australia and around the world to Canberra."
The Chief Minister said the festival would be an 'Australian first in scale and scope, covering everything from gaming and e-sports to the cutting edge of start-ups'. Professor Schmidt acknowledged the traditional landowners and expressed the University's gratitude to the families who gifted the name Kambri to the University in early 2018.