Then and now: Images from UQ Archives

The University of Queensland has had a presence at St Lucia for almost eighty years, beginning with the construction of the Forgan Smith Building in 1938. The transformation of the site over time has been dramatic - from sub-tropical rainforest, to sugar plantation, farming land and, now, university campus.

Drawing upon the collections of the University of Queensland Archives, ‘Then and Now’ explores the evolution of the campus, juxtaposing archival images with modern images of the same scenes. It shows the development and maturation of a site that has evolved from a sparsely settled, agricultural district into a verdant setting for one of Australia's leading research and teaching institutions. 

The Great Court

UQ's central courtyard is famous for its beautiful sandstone façade and cloisters.


An open grass courtyard surrounded by sandstone buildings. Some buildings were still under construction until work was completed in 1979.


A lush green courtyard planted with a mix of shady trees, including natives. The surrounding buildings have expanded over time - Duhig Tower is now linked to the Duhig North Building, the Global Change Institute has been constructed behind the Steele Building, and the west wing of the Forgan Smith Building has been refurbished.

J.D. Story building

UQ’s administration building is the home of the Student Centre, which assists with admissions, exams and graduations.


The J.D. Story Building was created to meet the growing needs of the University, and construction was completed in 1965. The building was named in honour of John Douglas Story (1869-1966), who had a tremendous impact on the development of The University of Queensland. Sitting on the first University Senate in 1910 and continuing until 1963, Story's involvement with the University continued in various capacities over the years, including serving as Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor.


The J.D. Story Building is UQ’s administration centre. Today it is the home of the Student Centre, Alumni and Community Relations, UQ Advancement, Human Resources Services, and Finance and Business Services.

Michie Building

UQ’s Social Science and Humanities precinct.


This image shows the undeveloped western end of the Forgan Smith Building, prior to the construction of the Michie Building. You can see that the area was used as a car park. The building was constructed between 1972 and 1979. It was named after Professor John Lundie Michie, Professor of Classics from 1911 to 1946. 


When compared with other buildings around the Great Court, the Michie Building is a modern-style, high-rise. It was refurbished in 2012 by Wilson Architects to consolidate and improve the teaching spaces of Anthropology, Social Sciences, English, Media Studies and Art History. Today it includes easy access to the Anthropology and Antiquities Museums.

Central Library (Social Sciences and Humanities Library)

Though the facade has not changed, the Duhig North Building has been refurbished over time. The changes reflect a shift in focus from storage of print collections to integrated learning environment and enabler of access to growing electronic collections.


Opened in 1973, Central Library - as it was initially known - was constructed to help ease overcrowding in the then Main Library. Central Library housed the research collections that supported the Social Sciences and Humanities, and was the location of the offices of the University Librarian, the administration section of the library, and library staff.


Its refurbishment, in 1998, was a response to changes in student needs, research behaviour, and the expansion of access to electronic resources. In 2009, Level 1 of the library was refurbished to include learning spaces and areas to support student group work. It was named by students as 'The Hive', a name that reflects the 'buzz' of activity that prevails during the academic year. 

Circular drive (Campbell Place)

In this path between the UQ Union Complex and the Great Court precinct, you can see evidence of the University's commitment to embedding sustainability across its operations.


A view of Circular Drive (Campbell Place) looking towards the Engineering precinct of the University. This photograph was taken around 1962. The two students are standing in front of the Union Building, looking toward the west. Several temporary huts housing offices for Engineering and Architecture can be seen, showing the area prior to the development of the Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology precinct. 


Today, Circular Drive (Campbell Place) provides an entrance to the UQ Union complex, the hub of student activities, events, clubs, and societies at the University. This photo shows the Global Change Institute on the right. The area reflects the University's move towards sustainability, providing resources such as drinking fountains and stations for refilling water bottles.

Map of Then and Now: Images of St Lucia campus

View the locations of where the images of the 'Then and Now' project were taken. Click the camera icon on the map, and then on the images to view.

The University of Queensland Then and Now collection consists of images of the University's St Lucia campus. The vintage photographs in this story are supplied by University of Queensland Archives. All images from this story can be found in UQ eSpace.

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