Recognising excellence in public buildings

  • News
  • Recognising excellence in public buildings
About this article
Tom Bernard


Tom Bernard


Awards , Events , Projects
Market Insights

Sign Up for Market Trends & Insights


Congratulations to Whyalla Secondary College in South Australia who is in the running for the Woods Bagot Award for Best Public Building.

The Whyalla Secondary College is a $100 million project that combined three high schools into one college in South Australia, accommodating up to 1,500 students from years 7 to 12. The state-of-the-art college opened on time amidst COVID-19, creating an education precinct with UniSA and TAFE campuses.

Rider Levett Bucknall Director Tom Bernard said combining three existing high school campuses into a new centre for learning excellence was no simple task.

Whyalla Secondary College, delivered with the help of a talented project team, integrates history and traditions with a new sense of identity, innovation and inclusivity.

RLB provided cost leadership and budget confidence from the project onset, including independent cost advice on scoping, design, and procurement.

According to Senior Associate Sam Martin, a clear vision was key to the project’s success.

“Local students and educators contributed their ideas on what the school should look and feel like, and how design could embody the Whyalla community’s strong sense of identity. RLB encouraged a best value culture from concept to completion and the project was delivered on time and on budget.”

Rider Levett Bucknall Director Tom Bernard noted the project required extensive value management during the design phases.

“RLB hosted value management workshops to maximise scope and maintain budget. Further value management was undertaken when the early contractor involvement process began, and RLB undertook extensive cost checking to ensure maximum value for money was achieved for our client.”

The outcome speaks for itself. The Whyalla Secondary College is a contemporary and dynamic learning environment. The three storey, STEM focused building features contemporary learning spaces, multi-level outdoor learning spaces, expansive sporting fields and courts. A performing arts theatre and a separate double court gymnasium provide the community with valuable public amenities.

This project supported an estimated 240 full-time equivalent jobs each year of the two-year construction term, with 1,200 local people in total employed on site during this period.

“Whyalla Secondary College’s motto is ‘inspiring possibilities’. We are proud to have played a role inspiring the next generation of students to become social, political and cultural leaders,” Tom concludes.

In collaboration with RLB since 1982, the prestigious awards have promoted excellence in design and innovation in the built environment. From 157 eligible finalists, the winners were selected by a high calibre judging panel made up of 14 property specialists and chaired by Adrian Harrington.

Winners will be announced at the 2023 Property Council of Australia / Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation and Excellence Awards, to be held at the ICC Sydney on Wednesday 23 August 2023.