Conrad Gargett Enriches STEM Education at Brisbane’s Esteemed St Laurence’s College

Aspiration to Foster a Strong Foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Realised

With the launch of the Ian McDonald STEM Building and Sports Centre, St Laurence’s College’s aspiration to foster a strong foundation in delivering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum to produce future STEM innovators and leaders has been realised. In consultation and collaboration with St Laurence’s College, Conrad Gargett designed and delivered these advanced learning facilities.

Principal of St Laurence’s College, Chris Leadbetter highlighted, “The Ian McDonald STEM Building and Sports Centre have made a significant difference to our College. These state-of-the-art facilities have seen the development of a renewed focus in the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at St Laurence’s College. The new building has been instrumental in greatly improving the learning outcomes for our students.”

Conrad Gargett’s Director Rebecca Moore explained, “The Ian McDonald STEM Building and adjoining Sports Centre contains dedicated STEM teaching and learning spaces, and competition-level sports facilities. This facility represents an innovative and robust model for the delivery of combined STEM curriculum and sports education in Queensland.”

Stretching across five storeys, the facility performs a strategic role on the complex site, linking across the significant level changes of the hilltop, providing accessibility to the main administrative and cultural hub of the college. The structure sensitively engages with the historical building fabric through the creation of new plaza entry areas which expose views to the existing brick colonnade, with façade design delivered which re-interprets rhythms and colours of the neighbouring buildings. Students engage in new tiered seating areas that interlink between levels, inhabiting the building edges and complementing the vibrant and dynamic environment of the college.

The STEM building incorporates dedicated robotics, engineering and wet science laboratories for student experiments, as well as supporting staff and flexible learning spaces. The well-designed laboratories facilitate a seamless transition between different learning modes, from a small group experiment focus through to whole class curriculum delivery. The entrance level from the main student hub includes glass-box “pod” spaces to showcase individual student experiments and projects as they develop.

Queensland Government highlights that delivering STEM curriculum is vital, “STEM touches every aspect of our lives, from our smartphones to the technologies that enable us to explore the world around us and outer space. It also drives innovation in our fast-changing global economy. To succeed in this environment, and for Queensland to continue to prosper into the future, our students need a strong foundation in STEM.” (Source:

Leadbetter highlighted, “The Sports Centre has seen our sports program go from strength to strength.”

The merging of the STEM building with the sports centre has created opportunities for synergies between the two faculties. The co-location of health and physical education spaces, including a “human performance” lab and weights rooms with science and technology spaces, has merged sports education expertise.

The sports centre features retractable volleyball nets, the first of their kind in Australia, and court facilities for basketball and badminton on a competition grade sprung timber floor. Spectators are able to contribute to the action from dedicated tiered seating areas and a glass sided spectator bridge, enabling complete visibility across the centre. The design of the sports centre examined the effects of natural light and air circulation on player experience and included extensive thermal modelling to establish the ideal balance of natural ventilation and player comfort. Court spaces are supported by office and staff spaces, as well as breakout and change rooms for home and visiting umpires and teams.

Conrad Gargett has partnered with St Laurence’s College on multiple projects including the Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre, St Laurence’s College Chapel, and Gair Field and carpark facility The practice is dedicated to designing world-class tertiary education environments that teach and shape the future innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

Image credit: Toby Scott