Campus then and now

Campus then and now: Parkinson Building

Last updated on 10 September 2019

Notice something missing? We’ve been digging through our archive of old campus masterplan photos and found a few images that show the campus throughout the years.

The Parkinson Building is a Grade II listed art deco building. The tower is the highest point of the building and stands at 57 metres tall, making it one of tallest buildings in Leeds.

It was named after Frank Parkinson, a major benefactor of the University who oversaw many new build projects from 1936 onwards.

Designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge and built in Portland Stone, construction started in 1938 but due to the war, when it was used as a Ministry of Food storeroom, it was not opened as a University building until 1951.

Share your thoughts

If you have any past stories about the historic construction of the Parkinson Building or photos of it without its iconic tower please share them with us.
Tweet us your Parkinson throwback images and stories to  @UoLCampusDev #UoLThrowback

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Nexus building

Green light for innovation and enterprise centre

Last updated on 10 September 2019

A new £38m innovation and enterprise centre at the University of Leeds has been given the green light by Leeds City Council today.

Members voted to defer and delegate the approval of the application to the Chief Planning Officer, subject to completion of the legal agreement.

Offering a gateway to help businesses access the University’s world-class research, the centre is part of the University’s £520m investment in its campus, aimed at positioning Leeds as one of the UK’s top higher education institutions.

The centre, to be named Nexus, will be positioned at the south edge of campus, close to the city centre.


Dr Ceri Williams, Director of Research and Innovation Development at the University of Leeds, said: “This centre is designed to help new and established companies and other organisations harness the University’s capabilities in a more streamlined and inventive way.

“Universities offer a huge range of support, whether that’s new knowledge and expertise, access to our talented students and graduates, or executive development to help businesses innovate, grow or be more productive.

“But developing new opportunities can be difficult, because of the sheer size and complexity of higher education institutions. Nexus will provide a new way of collaborating, providing businesses with seamless access to the right expertise, skills or facilities, in an exceptional place”.


The centre will offer a vibrant community for tenants, providing high quality office and lab space for technology-led companies, corporate R&D and new product development teams, and will offer a range of spaces for networking and collaboration, including meeting rooms, a cafe and a business lounge.

The University of Leeds has a strong track record in supporting the growth of new and established businesses, having created more than 100 spin-outs.

Seven of these spin-out companies are market listed on AIM, which is more than any other university in the UK.

Nexus aims to play a key role in supporting the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) mission to unlock the region’s economic potential, by encouraging enterprise and supporting businesses to grow and remain in the area.


Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, added: “I’m delighted that the University has put forward its ambition for a multi-million pound investment in this purpose-designed facility.

“Local businesses and entrepreneurs will have a place where they can engage and benefit from the knowledge and capabilities of the University, enabling the development of next generation technologies and products. I believe it has real potential to contribute to regional growth and prosperity.”


One of the strong industry partnerships the University has already established is with DePuy Synthes, a company delivering innovative medical devices and solutions in orthopaedics, spinal care and neuroscience.

The company opened its new research and development centre in Leeds in 2014, after receiving significant investment from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.


Commenting on the role that Nexus will play in industry research, Mike Barker, Vice President, Worldwide Research & Development in DePuy Synthes said: “It is vital universities offer companies a clear gateway, not only to provide space for innovation and collaboration in research, but also easy access to knowledge, facilities and graduate talent.

“Our company’s approach is to exchange new ideas and collaborate in hot spots of innovation, such as exists here in Leeds. We have a long history in Leeds and programmes like these play a big role in supporting and developing the medical technology industry and life sciences sector.”


The new facility, which will open its doors in 2018, is one of several developments underway at the University, with infrastructure investment ranging from £90k – £90m.

The centre has been designed by Associated Architects and was submitted by Indigo Planning.

A recent report revealed that the University is currently making a £1.3bn contribution to the UK economy, with its overarching £520m investment aimed at creating a world-class campus to support its ambitious plans to drive cutting-edge research and excellent student education.


Interior design

Ask the Expert: Creating inspiring environments on campus

Last updated on 10 September 2019

Penny TiffneyPenny Tiffney, Technical Officer for Interior Design, Estates Services explains the impact of interior design on campus.

Bringing to life our aspiration to create a world class campus involves balancing the structure of buildings with the internal environment to be created.

The psychology of the space within a building is critical as it encompasses how lighting, temperature, colour, furniture, materials and layout can have a positive impact.

Do positive environments contribute to a dynamic learning culture for our staff and students?

It is important to have spaces that are fit for purpose.  Within a University environment, there needs to be flexibility in working spaces, learning spaces and social spaces.  A room for learning, teaching and communicating with peers has to have the correct level of lighting, spacing between furniture and correct acoustics.

What impact does furniture, lighting and flooring make on the learning environment?

The furniture should enhance the space and make for effective working or be comfortable for socialising.  We, as a University, go through a set of strict criteria when procuring new furniture and we analyse the furniture for its sustainable and ergonomic credentials.  The new design of task chairs, for example, allow an individual to customise the positioning of the back, arms and height.  Even the fabric of the chairs should be carefully considered as it needs to be durable, yet comfortable.

The positive and negative effects of lighting can impact the way we interpret a space and importantly, the way we perceive colour.  Daylight is important for the positive health benefits but it can also increase temperature, so it is crucial that lighting can be controlled and this also includes our exposure to daylight.

Out of the key masterplan projects underway during the next 5 years, which are you working on?  Can you tell us a bit more about your role within the context of the projects?

I am currently involved in Transport, Engineering, the School of Healthcare and Residences. My role is to understand the clients’  needs from the space, their brand identity and how these are echoed in the design.  But most importantly how the space can be designed as  fit-for-purpose, durable and easily maintained.

LUU news

Our ambitions for an exceptional University Union

Last updated on 10 September 2019

Already ranked in the top three for providing an exceptional student experience, Leeds University Union has embarked on a substantial £16.8m investment to upgrade its facilities, which will contribute towards its strategic plans to remain one of the UK’s biggest and best Students’ Unions.

The multi-million pound investment will provide state of the art facilities resulting in a unique suite of venues under one roof, alongside modern well equipped theatres with increased capacity. Upgrading of the retail spaces, licensed bars and café areas within the building will complement improved performance venues and facilities for societies. Users will also be able to navigate the building better through access from new lifts and better connections between spaces used for community engagement and co-curricular activities.

Set for completion in Spring 2017, the revamped Union will create a dynamic and modern environment, continuing to help students love their time at Leeds. The Union Upgrade is part of the University’s £520m investment in its campus, aimed at positioning Leeds as one of the UK’s top higher education institutions.

Dennis Hopper, Director of Facilities Management, University of Leeds commented:

“Investment in our facilities is a key factor in the University’s ability to achieve our strategic goals. Our buildings must support world leading research while at the same time responding to changes in student education and increasing student expectations. The significant investment in the University Union will strengthen this ambition and ensure that students have the very best experience during their time here at Leeds.”


Aidan Gills, Chief Executive of Leeds University Union explains more about the ambitious plans and the complexities of delivering a project of this scale, at the same time as maintaining business as usual.

“Our vision is to make sure that every student loves their time at Leeds. Over the past decade, what LUU does to support students at Leeds has radically changed, and this project gives us the opportunity to reflect that in our building.

Students arriving this September will experience the opening of some great new spaces in their first term and the current students will be kept informed about everything we are changing and how we want their involvement and input.

With 320+ student-led groups, the Union Upgrade is vital to ensuring that we continue to achieve our vision in a sustainable way for years to come.”