The Old Quad’s architecture and internal design reflect the aspirations of the University founders to create a leading University. It has a rich history as the first site for Arts and Law teaching, the University library, Council Chambers, as a residence for professions. It also has a long history of being a central place of public engagement, ceremonial activities, public lectures and cultural displays.

The East and West wings were constructed between 1854 and 1857 with the north wing and extension constructed in two stages (1856 and 1875). In 1930 the east and west cloisters were built together with south extensions to both the east and west wings, with the last major building program introducing a vaulted undercroft and first floor Council Chamber to close the south end of the Quadrangle in 1970.

Celebrating Our History: Stories of the Old Quad

With its iconic archways and bold architectural presence, Old Quad is the oldest building on the Parkville campus and endures as the strongest connection to the University’s fledgling years.

Originally built in classic Tudor style as a teaching space for students and a home for professors, the building has supported and sustained the University’s growth over the past 164 years, adapting with each new era while standing firm in the heart of the campus both in a geographical and historical sense.

The gallery below features a selection of stories and individuals that have shaped this historical building.

A new engagement space at the heart of the campus

Today, Old Quad is embarking on a new chapter, with an extensive restoration project which will see the north and areas of east wings largely returned to their original design, and reaffirm Old Quad’s place as the key cultural, civic, engagement and ceremonial heart of the University.

Restoration works at the Old Quad will rebuild many of the structure’s original features and create a number of flexible spaces to further the University’s engagement agenda.

It will provide a vibrant and welcoming campus community and experience by hosting a plethora of events including public lectures, seminars, performances and ceremonies with the provision of an exhibition and gallery area.

Heritage Listing and Preservation

Old Quad is included on the Victorian Heritage Register and all works both internal and external are subject to permit approval from Heritage Victoria. The design proposal for the refurbishment of the North Wing, created by heritage architects Lovell Chen, includes high quality finishes such as a grand staircase, conservation and replication of moulded timber panels, lath and plaster ceilings, bespoke cabinetry, as well as quality fixtures and fittings. These have been commissioned as a part of the University’s commitment to the quality conservation and restoration of historic buildings.

north wing

The north annexe will accommodate a central hall which will operate as either a standalone small function space or as the reception point for entry from the north. This will enable the Old Quad to finally achieve an open address to the north, creating connections to Union House and the northern end of the campus.

A new grand staircase and lift between the North Wing and annexe will draw visitors to the light-filled University Hall and restored University Library.

East wing

Teaching space will be reinstated along the ground floor of the east wing, accessed directly off the cloister. The project will also relocate the current south-end stair well to the centre of the wing, in its original position, and refurbish space on the first floor adjacent to the north wing.

Stained Glass Art

A stained-glass installation is being created by artist Tom Nicolson who will work with artisan Geoffrey Wallace. The installation will form a new entry point in the north wing.

Construction Progress

The following images capture the restoration process of the Old Quad.