Grand old lady of Brisbane nursing history gets a new lease on life

One of the most recognisable and historical collections of buildings in Brisbane’s inner north has found a new lease on life and will become a temporary home for up to 1000 university students at a time.

Jan 31, 2022, updated Jan 31, 2022

The Lady Lamington nurses home and towers, constructed between 1896 and 1939 and including one of the first designs by architect Robin Smith Dods, were part of the lives of generations of Brisbane’s nurses before closing in 1993.

Their redevelopment is part of the $1.3 billion, five hectare Herston Quarter project being built in and around the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The precinct will also include commercial office, chid care, medical, hospitality spaces.


The towers, with their Spanish Mission design, are among the most prominent buildings in the city but had been left largely unappreciated as the hospital precinct grew from the 1990s.

The heritage listed buildings will now be the key feature of the new student accommodation complex.

Insurance giant Australian Unity is delivering the Herston Quarter project, described as one of Australia’s largest social infrastructure programs.

Development director Richard McLachlan said the restoration of the heritage buildings presented many challenges, particularly upgrading facilities to meet contemporary building code requirements.

“More than 550,000 hours of local labour went into the restoration process that saw the installation of 850 linear metres of timber balustrade, 12,000 linear metres of verandah decking boards, the painting of 539 original doors, 230 pairs of new French doors, 318 original window frames and the replacement of hundreds of panes of new glass,” he said.

The first students are expected to move into the new complex within weeks.

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