Giving back: one tour at a time

7 Sep 2023
Keith poses for a photo
Dr Keith Treschman

Since his first visit to The University of Queensland’s beautifully appointed alumni space in Brisbane City, the Atrium, Science alum Dr Keith Treschman (BSc '72, DipEd ’72, BEdSt ’75, BA '80) has been fascinated by the building and its architecture.  

Little did he know that in less than a year he would learn enough about it to be considered something of an expert and, even better from his perspective, to share that expertise with the UQ community.  

Keith now dons the volunteer hat and delights audiences with his ever-growing knowledge about the building, its origins, architectural styles and cultural context. His passion for history and architecture, coupled with a commitment to life-long learning, were the impetus behind his new informal role as Atrium Tour Guide and his crowd-pleasing ‘tutorials’ on building quirks, crannies and construction details.  

“You’ll find the architects replicated the state’s Maltese Cross emblem in aspects of several features, such as the octagon at the base of the dome, with the number of pods and some of the furnishings,” Keith shares enthusiastically.  

He also finds the story of the building, set against the backdrop of Brisbane and Queensland development at the time, remarkable. On a more eclectic note, his interest in Greek mythology motivated him to look closely at The Atrium’s Grecian columns and compare then to other similar ones in Brisbane.  

“Perhaps a coffee table book is in order?” he jokes. 

People mingling in a nicely lit building
UQ's alumni space, The Atrium

Having now led 25 tours, Keith looks back on his first with more than a little amusement.  

“I didn’t receive any materials, which meant I had to do some quick Google searches,” he chuckled. 

These days, his bank of knowledge has grown considerably and with that his comfort with the material and space. He’s learned a few stories from other visitors and these have only deepened his appreciation.  

One woman who had worked in the building 60 years ago, with National Australia Bank, shared that female staff at the time could not wear uniforms to and from work, but had to change upon arriving at the bank. There were also no female tellers until the 1970s when it was determined that women were better at counting notes.  

Stories like these are what inspires Keith to share his time and knowledge, giving others the opportunity to learn about a place that is becoming more like an old friend by the day. For any UQ alum keen to volunteer, his advice is to go for it.  

“With giving, one gets a lot more back – it's extremely rewarding.”