History of Union College
Union College was the first residential college in Queensland to offer accommodation to both men and women.

Union College is a place of cultural heritage significance and marks an important stage in the modern development of The University of Queensland.

Designed in 1963 by well known architect James Birrell, the college was highly praised for its innovative design. The three storey residential block sits above the facilities building to enjoy cooling river breezes and panoramic views. The spaces between the buildings are designed to create picturesque inner courtyards. An interesting feature of the building is the use of Mt Coot-tha bluestone throughout the site.

The College, housed originally in inner Brisbane, opened on the St Lucia site in 1965 with the buildings completed by 1974.

Union College was heritage listed in 2004 on the basis of cultural, social and architectural significance.

In 2015, Union College celebrated 50 years of being open at the St Lucia site. Learn more about the 2015 celebration.

Union College in 1967. Image courtesy of Richard Stringer.


The Union College building at The University of Queensland St Lucia campus was built in five major stages between 1964 and 1972.

Union College comprises of several buildings. The two main buildings are linear in form and have an extruded appearance. The facilities block is a single-storey building, which flows through underneath the lower storey of the residential block. The structure has a steel sheeted roof supported by an off-form concrete portal frame infilled with Mt Coot-tha bluestone. The ceilings are lined with strawboard and the joinery is blackbean. There is a distinctive brick fireplace with four arched openings over a central hearth.

There are courtyards formed between the angles of the buildings. Raised areas set with trees and surrounded by bluestone retaining walls preserve original hillocks on the site. The existing major trees have been supplemented by plantings of other trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

The Residential block is a three-storey building supported on off-form concrete pilotis. The plan form of the building follows different angles, facing variously north-east, east and north, creating courtyards that contain large mature trees and gardens. The pilotis support dark manganese brick internal walls. Open stairwells with off-form concrete external balustrades are located at regular intervals along the building. Windows are metal framed, with the original windows composed of a large panel spanning the window space at the top with two smaller windows below.

Past Heads of College

Name Years
Michael (Max) Hickey (Warden) 1947 – 1967
Harley Bradbury (Warden) 1968 – 1992
Peter Fraser 1993 – 2007
Jill Hewitt 2007 – 2013
Past Heads of College