After leaving the RMH Tunnels and Helipad tour, I hot-footed it around the corner to the Walter + Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) as part of my Open House Melbourne 2013 outing. Since 1915 WEHI has had an association with the Royal Melbourne Hospital and effectively it has been located next to, or in an RMH building ever since.
The tour started at the main entrance located next to the basketball court for University High. The interior is simple yet impressive (no photos of the entrance interior as I wasn't sure at this stage if photography was OK) which prominently displays all the funding partners and donors which contribute to the Institute. Beyond the security gates we were lead down the Discovery Tunnel which chronicles the history of the institute and leads to the newest wing, designed by DCM and opened in 2012.
On the ground floor of the new wing rests a model of the Institute's facilities as well as many of the prestigious awards scientists working at the Institute have received over the years including the Nobel Prize awarded to Frank Macfarlane Burnet.
After going up one level, a short video featuring cameos by the design team was playing and half-way through I gazed upwards and became transfixed with the illumination of the void which we were standing at the base of.
When we rode up the glass lift, exited to go through the secured entry, we were greeted with life - no not mutant zombie-like creatures, but scientists, at work in the lab. It turns out there's approximately 1000 scientists, researchers and support staff working at the institute: no small organisation by any stretch of the imagination. We were also then taken into the only tea room in the entire facility - and it's enormous, complete with separate lecture theatre, industrial-sized kitchen and enough seats and tables, by my estimation, for 300 people - not to mention a great northerly aspect looking over old-school Parkville.
The tour naturally focused on the architecture, however WEHI also run Discovery tours which focus on the research and science which happens inside. I'd recommend anyone, even if you have a limited interest in science (says someone who dropped Science altogether in Year 10 and has only appreciated its application in adulthood) sign up because you'll be exposed to spaces, in particular work spaces, unlike many in the city.