The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in the bustling Haymarket precinct of Sydney’s city campus is a flagship project of the University of Technology Sydney‘s City Campus Master Plan, valuedat over one billion dollars. Designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, the building’s distinctive and innovative design has made it a prominent landmark and a masterpiece of modern architecture. The building comes from Dr Chau Chak Wing, an Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who generously donated $20 million to the project and an additional $5 million for Australia-China scholarships (Dr Chau Chak wing building by Frank Gehry – Light & Lines).

The Chau Chak Wing Building is situated on the “cultural ribbon” from the iconic Sydney Opera House through UTS. It encompasses Harbour and the Good Line Development along the way. As a result, it serves as a significant landmark on this cultural route and contributes to the vibrant and diverse urban fabric of Sydney’s city campus (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

An Innovative Architectural Feat | Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

Let’s explore the Design and Features 

It is a remarkable architectural feat. The concept behind the design involved creating a cluster of “tree houses,” which refers to vertical stacks of office floors with spatial “cracks” in between (Lomholt, 2020).

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building by Arup Associates and Arup - Sheet1
Section view of west elevation, model scale: 1-to-50_Gehry Partners, LLP

The building’s larger lower floors are divided into six-floor segments, and the façade folds in between these elements, allowing natural daylight to penetrate deep into the centre of the floors. The building’s façade is designed to have two aspects and personalities. 

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building by Arup Associates and Arup - Sheet2
East elevation, model scale: 1-to-100_Gehry Partners, LLP

The east-facing façade, which contains an entry from the UPN, is composed of a buff-coloured brick that resembles Sydney Sandstone. The form of this façade curves and folds like soft fabric, and the brick will be set in horizontal courses, stepping or corbeling to create the shape.

The west-facing façade, which contains the ground-level entry off Ultimo Road, is composed of large shards of glass façade that are slightly reflective. The glass fractures and mirrors the image of the surrounding buildings in the neighbourhood. Sculptural brick towers will stand at the northwest and southwest corners of this façade (Lomholt, 2020).

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building by Arup Associates and Arup - Sheet3
West elevation, model scale: 1-to-100_Gehry Partners, LLP

The interior of the building is just as impressive as the exterior, with Gehry Partners designing the space from the inside out to inspire cutting-edge research and learning outcomes. The ground floor features a café with outdoor seating, and the upper-level entry leads to a student centre and lounge, with a graduate student lounge located one level above (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

“From Undulating Brickwork to Sustainable Design”

Let’s explore some of the Notable Design Features of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

Fluidity in Brickwork: The Unique Aesthetic of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

It is an architectural marvel with several noteworthy design features. One of the most striking features is the undulating brickwork that creates a fluid appearance on the exterior of the building. Achieving this effect required a technical feat of corbelling individual bricks to articulate the organic shape of the building. Custom-made bricks, approximately 320,000 in total, were laid by hand. The shape and groove of the bricks differ from standard bricks, and most of the bricks are joined by brick ties to the structural substrate panels beneath for reinforcement (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

Exterior brick details_Photography: Michael Nicholson.

Prominent Stairways: Creating Focal Points and Encouraging Interaction

The building also uses stairways to move people around, encouraging interaction among its occupants. One of the most striking stairways is the polished stainless steel staircase in the main lobby, which lends a sculptural focal point to the building and reflects the movement of people and ideas. Another Victorian ash stairway wraps around an oval classroom, linking it to the student lounge on the floor above (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

Collaborative Design: Fostering Interaction and Innovation

The design of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building emphasizes collaboration, with many teaching, learning, and office spaces designed for collaborative work. Two oval classrooms and a collaborative theatre designed for technology-supported interaction are among the features that promote collaborative learning. Collaborative study rooms are incorporated for group work, while student and staff lounges, coffee hubs, cafes, and outdoor terrace areas provide ample space for less formal collaboration (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

5 Star Green Star Rating for Sustainable Design

Sustainability was a key consideration throughout the design of the building, earning it a 5 Star Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. Construction materials, interior furnishings, sustainable timber, and air-conditioning were all chosen with sustainability in mind. The building also has a 20,000-litre roof tank that harvests rainwater for use in toilets and irrigation, reducing potable water use, and 160 bicycle parking spaces in the basement (University of Technology Sydney, 2015).

Conclusion | Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

In conclusion, the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney is a remarkable architectural masterpiece designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. The building’s name honours Dr Chau Chak Wing’s philanthropic contributions, which helped bring the project to fruition and support educational opportunities for Australian and Chinese students. 

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a testament to the University of Technology Sydney’s commitment to innovative design and sustainability. Its unique exterior and thoughtful interior design make it a landmark and an architectural masterpiece. The building’s emphasis on collaboration, green design, striking stairways, and undulating brickwork make it a noteworthy addition to the UTS City Campus Master Plan. The building has become an iconic landmark in Sydney’s skyline and a source of inspiration for architects and designers worldwide. It is not just a building; it is a symbol of UTS’s commitment to creating a better future through design and innovation. 


  • Light & Lines (no date) Dr Chau chak wing building by Frank Ghery – Light & Lines, Light & Lines | ArchiPro NZ. Available at: (Accessed: March 15, 2023). 
  • Lomholt, I. (2020) Dr Chau chak wing building: UTS sydney – e-architect, e-architect. Available at: (Accessed: March 15, 2023). 
  • University of Technology Sydney (2015) Introducing the Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak wing building, now home to UTS business school, YouTube. YouTube. Available at: (Accessed: March 15, 2023). 
  • University of Technology Sydney (2017) Design features, University of Technology Sydney. Available at: (Accessed: March 15, 2023). 

Riddhi Sarda is a postgraduate in Urban Planning and holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture. As a research professional with 2 years of experience, Riddhi is driven to make a meaningful difference in society through her work. Besides being a research enthusiast, she is also a passionate digital artist and a self-help reader.