Skip to main content
A group of construction workers wearing yellow and orange high-vis uniforms and hard hats standing in the middle of a construction site surrounded by rubble with a crane in the distance behind them on a sunny day.

Click on the image above to watch the Stage One demolition fly through

The former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, now known as Lot Fourteen, is being transformed into an innovation neighbourhood by Renewal SA on behalf of the state government.

The neighbourhood is targeting entrepreneurs, businesses, researchers and teaching institutions involved in the high growth, deep technology sectors of artificial intelligence and machine learning, defence and space, cyber security and blockchain technology, and immersive media and creative industries.

The precinct includes six heritage listed buildings on North Terrace and Frome Road that are being retained and refurbished. The remaining obsolete buildings are being demolished, making way for new buildings to suit enterprises of the future, plus a major cultural facility fronting North Terrace, an international culinary school, and a comprehensive public realm design that will open the site up to the community.

One of Australia’s largest contractors, McMahon Services, was engaged to undertake Stage One demolition at Lot Fourteen. The work began in December 2017 and involved demolishing the nine-storey East Wing, and the adjoining Hone and Cobalt Wings and the Emergency Link buildings.

Stage One included significant building of temporary works, scaffolding, asbestos and service trade packages that McMahon Services coordinated to provide the safest and most efficient delivery sequence and method.

McMahon Services Project Manager Simon Kenny said Stage One represented a number of challenges and project constraints. These included the relocation of SA Power Networks’ high voltage assets, which service the National Wine Centre and university buildings to the west along North Terrace; management and ongoing communication with adjacent stakeholders; and general access restrictions.

The location also presented challenges, as it fronts busy North Terrace where the tram extension was being undertaken, and is next to Adelaide Botanic Garden, which has about one million visitors a year and a plant collection that must be protected from dust. McMahon Services also had to be mindful of the fact that a pre-existing tenant, SA Pathology, was continuing to operate on site and needed to retain access to services at all times.

Mr Kenny said engagement with the public and other stakeholders was one of the key risks for a project of this scale. However, he said Renewal SA’s collaborative approach made this aspect of the project very successful and should set a precedent for similar high profile projects.

“In partnership with Renewal SA, we have been very proactive in stakeholder management and working on potential and upcoming impacts,” he said. “For example, when there were weddings being held in the Adelaide Botanic Garden, we would stage our work breaks to coincide with them.”

Another challenge – unique to the site – was the number and complexity of antiquated catacombs or tunnels running underneath and between the many buildings, containing services such as gas, power, water and security cabling. These had to be braced to prevent collapses while demolition work was being undertaken above ground.

To help keep down dust levels and comply with safety standards, the entire East Wing was wrapped in a screening scaffold (pictured following), which was braced against the building and progressively dropped as floors were demolished. The large screening scaffold afforded a unique activation opportunity, with a creative design by Vans the Omega printed on the wrap, providing an engaging, dramatic backdrop to the site’s North Terrace frontage.

A group of people looking at a construction site behind a short fence on a sunny day. The construction site features a patch of dirt and scaffolding over a multi-storey building, draped in a tarp showcasing a colourful abstract artpiece. Two cranes are also on site.

Open Day visitors watch the PC 1250 at work against the back drop of the East Wing wrap designed by Vans the Omega

Big jobs call for big machinery, so McMahon’s mighty PC 1250 ultra-high-reach demolition excavator (pictured following) – the biggest of its kind in Australia was mobilised from New South Wales and deployed on site for four months.

The excavator, with a starting weight of 125 tonnes, has a 43-metre boom that operates hydraulic cutting, crushing and shearing tools, cameras and water sprays, and there are only a handful of people in Australia who can operate this versatile machine.

A crane demolishing a multi-storey building on a cloudy day.

McMahon Services' PC 1250 eats away at the East Wing

The PC 1250, amongst others was a star attraction of a public open day held by Renewal SA at the site in July, which attracted 2700 people. The Stage One demolition work was also viewed by a series of state government ministers plus tour groups from schools, universities and the property industry.

Mr Kenny said McMahon Services had up to 80 people a day working on the site, involved in internal strip out, asbestos removal, propping, structural demolition, building and dismantling scaffolding and civil site works.

“Taking a coordinated approach with Renewal SA has made this a really successful project in every regard, including the safety and environmental aspects,” he said.

“We have really grown as a company through this project.”

Renewal SA acting chief executive Mark Devine congratulated McMahon Services on the successful delivery of the project.

He said one of the achievements of Stage One was the very high rate of recycling of the demolition materials, which would contribute towards the 6 Star Green Star rating being sought for the entire Lot Fourteen neighbourhood.

Renewal SA was still able to maintain commercial tenancies at the site throughout its duration and run more than 50 public events attended by over 30,000 people.

In addition to McMahon Services, Renewal SA has engaged major contractors Lendlease, Mossop Constructions and Schiavello on the Lot Fourteen redevelopment – each maximising the use of South Australian sub-contractors and workforces. These contractors and subcontractors are working on heritage and historic building refurbishments, including the Women’s Health Centre, and the Allied Health, Margaret Graham, McEwin and Sheridan buildings, plus public realm works fronting North Terrace.

“Given the close proximity of work sites and the extent of shared access zones, the collaborative efforts of each contractor is remarkable,” Mr Devine said.

Was this page helpful? 
Would you like to be contacted about this feedback?