Indigenous history shows that the Acton was an important place of corroboree and trade for the Ngunnawal people. Archaeological discoveries along the banks of Sullivans Creek, emphasise its significance to Aboriginal people.
Walter Burley Griffin included the general site for a university as part of his original plan for Canberra. By 1933, Terrace Avenue, later renamed University Avenue, appeared on early maps of Acton; it continued to connect Civic with Black Mountain until Bruce Hall was built. The Chifley Government established ANU in 1946 and a plan for the campus was prepared by Professor Brian Lewis a year later – relying heavily on the garden city principles of the Griffin Plan.
Chifley recognised the importance of gathering brilliant scholars and researchers from across the globe to ensure the international recognition necessary for the success of the fledgling university. The quality of the environment that was being created was regarded as central to atrracting the very best people to the University.
From the early 1970s, Union Court has been the main commercial hub for ANU and a focal point for campus life. Situated on Griffin’s Municipal Axis, it provides a strong connection between the campus and the city. The Chifley Library (1964) and the Union Building (1973) are the major buildings within Union Court, which also hosts some of the University’s notable public art collection including ‘Spirit of Enquiry’ by Deborah Halpern.
The renaissance of Union Court and University Avenue will support ANU in its ongoing quest to develop, attract and retain the brightest academic minds and reinforce its national and global reputation for excellence.