Asbestos Diseases Research Institute
Australia has one the world’s highest incidence of malignant mesothelioma per capita, with more than 700 new cases diagnosed each year, which is due to the widespread use of the known carcinogen, asbestos.
As a response to the incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Australia, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) located in the Bernie Banton Centre, was opened in January 2009 by the then Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd. The ADRI was established by the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation (ADRF), a charitable, not-for-profit foundation dedicated to assist and support the research efforts of ADRI into asbestos-related diseases.
The construction and design of the Centre was overseen by the Workers Compensation Dust Diseases Board of NSW who appointed the architects McConnel Smith & Johnson to design a state-of-the–art research facility on the Concord Hospital campus. Representatives of the Board worked closely with Mr Mark Willett, an innovative architect and Director of the firm, to design a building that fulfilled the ecologically sustainable development requirements of the Building Code of Australia.
The design of the Centre successfully achieved a complementary scale adjacent to the ANZAC Research Institute while clearly articulating the building’s functions and public address. The art selection was sourced in Sydney and Darwin jointly by the Chair of the Dust Diseases Board Research Grants Committee, Sylvia Kidziak AM, and Mark Willett to reflect ‘new beginnings in research’ and the indigenous community.
Before his death in 2007, Bernie Banton campaigned vigorously for the rights of those who suffered, like himself, from asbestos-related diseases. This state-of-the-art research facility on the Concord Hospital Campus was named in his honour and consists of six wet laboratories and two dry laboratories.