My week - 22 June 2015 - investing in our campus

Director of Facilities Management Dennis Hopper gives an update on campus development.

Dennis Hopper

The beautiful new Laidlaw Library has just opened, bringing to a close a three-year project that has seen the transformation of this part of Woodhouse Lane. But far from being the end of the University’s development plans, the building is just the start of a huge amount of construction activity that will see in excess of £120m of refurbishment works taking place during the next two to three years.

Several major building projects are already at or nearing completion, including the Leeds Institute of Data Analytics (LIDA) facility on Level 11 of the Worsley Building. Due to officially open in July, LIDA will house the new Consumer Data Research Centre funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and a major medical bioinformatics project funded by the Medical Research Council. This is the first stage of a £36m refurbishment of the Worsley Building encompassing major structural upgrades to Levels 8, 9, 10 and the remainder of Level 11. Work on the next stage of this challenging two-year project is due to start in September.

Work on the new multi-storey car park near to the EC Stoner Building continues and is due to be completed by early 2016. The survey we carried out earlier this year asking colleagues for their views on car park operations and allocation of permits was very successful, and the results, together with proposals for future allocation and pricing, are currently being considered by the consultation group. We’ll issue further information as soon as decisions have been made.

Meanwhile, on University Road the contract has been awarded to start refurbishing the former Geography building. The works mean that the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies – currently in five different campus locations – will move into one consolidated building next summer.  Further up the road, the Institute for Transport Studies is also due to be comprehensively refurbished and extended, with work taking place through the latter part of 2015 and into 2016.

Towards the centre of campus, contractors are shortly due to finish working on the refurbishment of the School of Mathematics and, nearby, enabling work is now taking place in the Edward Boyle Library (EBL), with the main contract beginning in August and continuing for two years. In September, one half of the EBL will open for use providing 1,000 study seats and full access to science and engineering texts. Building works will be carried out in the remaining half during the year. Next summer the situation will be reversed; the newly-refurbished half of the building will open, and the rest of the project completed during the 2016-17academic year. The finished building will offer upgraded and increased study space and a range of group study options.

Another very large project begins later this summer with the £38m refit of the Engineering Building. Works will again be taking place in a ‘live’ building with all the challenges this presents, but colleagues in Engineering are already discussing options such as holding lectures into the early evening or sharing lecture theatres and facilities.

Of course, all these projects are refurbishments but there are also new buildings in the pipeline, specifically the University Innovation and Enterprise Centre (UIEC) which will provide a new gateway to campus from the city, and the proposed North Eastern Quarter (NEQ) building that will house the Bragg Centre for Advanced Materials and Imaging and create new homes for the Schools of Computing and Physics and Astronomy.

Taking an even longer term view, the Campus Masterplan is now coming to its final iteration and will be ready for further dissemination soon. The Masterplan seeks to facilitate growth in a timely and effective way and identifies sites on campus that could be developed during the next 10-20 years. Taking into account future funding opportunities and academic needs, it seeks to establish which sites are available for development and how they might be used. It also addresses where there is potential for our buildings, grounds and facilities to make more of an impact, for example, public spaces and the main entrances to the campus.

Our investment plans are ambitious and challenging, but they are also exciting and indeed essential if we are going to achieve our strategic goals, and I am looking forward to seeing the transformational impact these projects have on our performance.

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