Completion of the Esther Simpson Building remains on track for late August. Construction company BAM are working on the final stages of the building which will then be handed over to the University for final fit-out. Our teams will then work to fully equip the new building with facilities and technical resources so that it is ready for operations within just 6-8 weeks of it being handed over.
Here’s a sneak preview of how it’s looking!
Specialist teaching facilities
The new facility for LUBS and the School of Law will have a number of specialist teaching facilities, as well as standard teaching rooms, including:
- Behaviour Labs divided into three areas:
- a data collection lab
- an observation room
- and the boardroom
- There are two, 24 seat, Trading Rooms that will allow students to practice trading in a safe environment and use real-time information
- A 240-seat horseshoe-shaped lecture theatre with triple projection and a 390-seat traditional lecture theatre
- Two, 100 seat flat floor seminar rooms
- Eight, 36 seat flat floor seminar rooms
Teaching rooms will be a mix of collaborative and interactive styles. Some will have fixed furniture, and some will have flexible furniture allowing for different styles of teaching.
High specification PCs will allow for greater power and performance and will benefit Management Analytics’ teaching at LUBS and a computer cluster with 76 workspaces will be situated on the first floor of the building.
Fully accessible building
The Esther Simpson building is fully accessible, and the design of the building meets the criteria of the Equality Act 2010.
Special consideration has been given (but not limited) to the following:
- Generous space centres
- Fluid access for all, including wheelchair users
- Suitable sanitary provision
- Features to assist people with visual, hearing and cognitive difficulties find their way around the building easily and safely.
View the latest progress photos.
Over recent weeks, during the fit-out process, the Sir William Henry Bragg building has been transformed and for many of us, the suspense of waiting to see what’s inside will be over in just a matter of weeks! For now, the Schools of Computing, Robotics, the Bio-Nano Group and Student Support Services have been moving in.
Latest progress video and photos
See the latest gallery of images.
Town Hall event
Early in July, several online Town Hall sessions took place which provided more information about the Sir William Henry Bragg building. The event provided colleagues with an update on fit-out progress, showcased the scope for research collaborations and opportunities and gave information on a series of public events due to commence later this year.
Find out more by viewing the PowerPoint presentation, FAQs and watch the Town Hall event recording.
There are just a few months to go now before doors open into the Sir William Henry Building.
Construction on the new development completed in April and fit out work is now underway. This is a major stage of the building and involves significant amounts of research equipment, existing and new, being installed, as well as Av set up across all research and teaching spaces.
David Oldroyd, Senior Estates Project Manager commented:
“We are only a few months away from full completion of the building and I know colleagues and students are looking forward to being in this new facility. The building has been designed in a manner to present numerous opportunities for collaborative research and teaching to take place – all of which will contribute to the University’s ambition be highly impact focused and make a positive difference in the world.
Over the next few months, our focus remains on the fit-out and liaising closely with the schools moving into the building to ensure the transition is as speedy and smooth as possible.”
The latest stage of fit-out can be seen in the video below:
For more detailed information about the fit-out stage visit our FAQ’s section.
A new artwork sculpture titled “To leaf is to learn” has been commissioned and will be placed on the Esther Simpson Building in the coming months.
‘To leaf is to learn.’
These are the somewhat cryptic words emblazoned across an exciting new artwork poised to take centre stage in an equally impressive new gateway to campus when the Esther Simpson Building completes this summer.
Cryptic, that is, until an explanation from none other than the Poet Laureate himself shines light on their meaning.
It turns out our very own Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, is the creative mind behind the profound prose that will adorn the stunning sculpture.
Professor Armitage drew inspiration from the concept that the artwork represents notebook sheets – a common element in a student’s life.
He explained: “The words came in direct response to the artwork itself.
“The empty ‘pages’ seemed to invite text, and I tried to use the opportunity to encourage the act of reading and writing – both as an education and a pleasure – in terms of the excitement that comes from leafing through books and from making our marks on surfaces.
I think there’s also a message about growing up, the human mind ‘coming into leaf’, especially during those university years. And a subconscious message, too, about the environment – how our own growth and understanding is linked to the processes and systems of the natural world.”
Fashioned out of giant metal sheets by world-renowned Spanish sculptor, Juanjo Novella, the artwork is both pensive and poetic.
Novella, known for his imposing public works of art in major cities dotted across the globe, was commissioned to create what will become a striking addition to an impressive new entrance on the western campus.
And the commission started an exciting international collaboration between Novella and Professor Armitage – one that will come to form a fascinating addition to our public art trail, while at the same time serving to inspire staff and students in their academic and professional pursuits.
Novella praised Professor Armitage for the way in which he approached the task with such creative vision.
He said: “It was just wonderful. Simon showed great generosity, which is what adorns great men, since he adapted to my needs. I’m very happy because Simon’s collaboration works on many levels. It was a real pleasure – one I wouldn’t mind repeating in the future.”
Installation of the artwork will take place this summer, with the process being supervised by Novella himself, who’s excited to visit Leeds and see his creation become a part of campus life.
He added: “I want this sculpture to be a living element that adds a sense of identity to the place. It is a silent and active sculpture at the same time. I have to say that this work made me incredibly excited because it is a sculpture that will be displayed in the UK – a country that I admire a lot. I’ve been greatly inspired by [British] sculptors like Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley, Richard Long, Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor and others.”
Innovative teaching centre
The sculpture will be located on the new Esther Simpson Building in Cloberry Street, which is due to open this autumn as part of the transformation programme for Leeds University Business School (LUBS) and the School of Law. Named after a former Leeds graduate, whose life-long vocation saw her help resettle scholars fleeing from totalitarian regimes across the world, the innovative teaching centre will provide world-class facilities that support participative learning and create an inspirational setting for staff and students – a fitting tribute to someone whose “tireless work reflects the values of the University”.
Professor Julia Bennell, Executive Dean of LUBS, said:
“This ambitious new building on the western campus will enhance our student experience; providing modern facilities and flexible teaching space. It’s important that we create an inspiring environment for staff, students and industry partners, and the artwork will be key to that experience.
On visiting the building, we hope the artwork speaks for the ambition and harmony the Business School aspires to with its surroundings, community and wider partnerships. We hope it will be a timeless inspiration for our students and staff, and will help welcome visitors to our innovative and inclusive space for education, research and collaboration.”
Another important aspect of the sculpture is the involvement of landscape architects and a lighting engineer to help create a true landmark – a physical link between the western campus and the central areas of the University.
It will become an extension of the Esther Simpson Building, visible from the building’s ground floor café and the teaching spaces above.
Professor Alastair Mullis, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “The School of Law is incredibly excited about the opening of the Esther Simpson building, which will provide a transformative teaching space close to our Liberty Building home on western campus and allow us to further develop our student experience.
We aim to create a campus environment that is truly inspirational and that meets the standards that we set as one of the top ranked law schools in the UK. In the years ahead, this artwork project will help welcome generations of students and academics to the school.”
Raising the curtain
Following a competitive selection process, Novella was chosen to design the sculpture because of his unique approach to engaging with urban landscapes.
It will certainly stand out – at 20 metres long and three metres high, the artwork will certainly impose itself on its surroundings.
And the sculpture will also serve another important purpose, minimising the aesthetic impact of a nearby electrical substation – acting as a ‘curtain’ to hide this ‘industrial’ feature.
Novella said: “It is a curtain – a wall created with leaves of paper torn from a notebook. Its sinuous shape creates curves that modulate light and stimulate the urban landscape. I like to imagine people around my sculptures – touching them, leaning on them, children playing. I want this work to be a living element that adds a sense of identity to the place where it’s located.”
Public art trail Novella’s sculpture is another important addition to our impressive range of public artwork, which is celebrated with a public art trail that guides visitors, staff and students around the collection. It will join other sculptures on campus, including Liliane Lijn’s Converse Column, Hubert Dalwood’s relief, Simon Fujiwara’s A Spire and Dual Form by British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The latter of these is on loan from Leeds Art Gallery, together with Henry Moore’s Three Piece Reclining Figure No.2: Bridge Prop, which is currently housed outside the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery in the Parkinson Building.
The Esther Simpson Building is still on course to be completed this summer and the first phase of the landscaping and highways work associated with the project begins in April. The work will initially focus on a wheelchair friendly route from the rear of Leeds University Union up to Cromer Terrace.
Work on site is progressing well with the contractor BAM. The building is now watertight and the electrical and mechanical services have completed their ‘first ‘fix’.
Landscape works have also commenced around the south elevation and next to the FD building, and will progress around the east side of the building.
Earlier this month we were delighted to receive handover of the Sir William Henry Bragg building from the contractors ‘BAM’.
When the building fit out completes this summer, this new facility will enable research to be conducted on national and international platforms to solve the challenges the world faces right now. It will also inspire current and future generations of students to innovate and drive change for a better future.
The next steps in the coming months are to migrate research equipment (new and existing) into the building and recalibrate, also with service connections, as necessary. Full furniture fit out will also take place along with IT / AV installations ready for teaching this autumn.
The Sir William Henry Bragg Building
Construction of the new Sir William Henry Bragg Building for the University of Leeds has been completed. The new landmark building for engineering and physical sciences, provides an impressive range of environments to support cutting-edge research and encourage collaboration across disciplines.
Named after Sir William Henry Bragg, a former professor at the University who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915, the facility will play a key role in the design of new materials research, nanotechnology, pharmaceutical manufacturing, low energy electronics and robotics.
David Oldroyd, Senior Project Manager` in the University’s Estate Services, has overseen the building of the building. He said:
“This is the largest single-project that the University has undertaken since the 1960s, and the result is stunning. The building is a testament to the University’s investment in its research capability for decades to come.
It also creates a vibrant and collaborative space for academics and students to share knowledge and experience.”
The total floor space is 16,200m² and the building will house some of the most advanced electron microscope technology in the UK, including the Royce Institute and Wolfson Imaging Facility. The highly sensitive equipment will allow researchers to see and video the motion of individual molecules.
The development was designed by ADP and delivered by BAM Construction, with Arcadis as project managers, cost management by Gardiner & Theobald, and engineering services provided by Curtins and ARUP.
Forming an instrumental part of the University’s current 10-year masterplan – also designed by ADP, the Bragg Building will strengthen the University’s collaboration with industry while enhancing the student experience.
The laboratory spaces are designed to encourage a culture of interdisciplinary working in the research and development of new materials, in areas including computing, telecommunications, sustainability, biology, pharmaceuticals and medicine. A striking central atrium incorporates flexible breakout spaces to provide the building with a vibrant social heart.
The low carbon new-build element connects to the Grade II Old Mining Building, which has been sensitively repurposed and extended with a new storey. Externally the use of engineered precast stone and materials such as Portland stone were chosen to complement the existing building and historic character of the surrounding conservation area. Two new bridges connect the Bragg Building with the School of Chemistry and Electrical Engineering, providing a physical link between the adjacent buildings. This will further encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Despite the current pandemic, work continued on site at reduced capacity with BAM implementing a number of safe working procedures in line with the government’s advice on social distancing.
This world-class collaborative research centre is set to open its doors to students later this year.
“From its inception the Bragg Building was an incredibly ambitious project, delivering world-class research facilities in the heart of the campus, within a conservation area and surrounded by heritage assets. The new building has rejuvenated the Old Mining Building and public realm and created a new gateway to the campus.
It is a great collective achievement and one ADP is incredibly proud to be associated with. We very much look forward to opening the doors and welcoming staff and students in.”
Joe Morgan, ADP Director.
“Delivering the iconic Bragg Building on such a difficult city centre site presented a series of challenges for the team. However, our use of modular elements including a precast concrete frame enabled us to deliver the project safely and efficiently”.
John Conway, BAM Construct UK
“This world class facility, which has repurposed and reimagined existing buildings and provided exemplary new facilities and is a genuine game changer for the University in terms of how the schools and departments will work together, collaborate, engage with industry, and make a sustained and valuable impact through research, teaching, student experience and discovery.
The Bragg project team and University should be rightly proud of achieving the successful delivery of this exemplary development through a global pandemic.”
Ian Aldous, UK Account Director for Universities & Science, Arcadis.
Note to editors
ADP is an employee-owned architecture practice, founded more than 50 years ago. The practice has wide experience across a number of key sectors including healthcare, education, hospitality, workplace and residential.
We focus on the positive experiences our buildings create for people and communities, and how they can benefit the environments around them. Our bespoke “Sustainability, Belonging and Engagement” assessment tool enables us to measure the social and environmental impact our projects have.
As an international practice, we work from nine different locations across the UK, Cyprus and India, but as one team with a wide range of expertise to suit any project.
Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy organization for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets.
We are 28,000 people, active in over 70 countries. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities and regions around the world.
Gardiner & Theobald
Gardiner & Theobald is an independent construction and property consultancy delivering Cost Management, Project Management and Specialist Consultancy for the built environment for over 180 years. We are passionate about three things: delivering a truly world class service for our clients, investing in the best people to deliver that service and remaining financially strong and independent. These are the pillars of our success and what sets us apart from the rest.
A new teaching and research facility for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences has been formally handed over to the University by construction company BAM.
The handover represents a significant milestone. Work on the project started four years ago and the focus now shifts to fitting out the interior, with a scheduled autumn opening date.
Named after Sir William Henry Bragg, a former professor at the University who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915, the new facility will bring together the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Computing, creating an engineering and physical sciences hub on the north-east corner of campus.
Designed to meet the needs of modern research
The basement of the Bragg building will house sensitive equipment including some of the most advanced electron microscope technology in the UK for fabricating and investigating new materials. The Bragg building has been designed so that vibration from passing traffic does not interfere with ultra-sensitive laboratory instruments.
The University is a founding partner of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, and the Institute’s work at Leeds will be co-located in the building with the Bragg Centre for Materials Research. Work will focus on manipulating and developing materials at the scale of individual atoms.
Professor Edmund Linfield, Director of the Bragg Centre for Materials Research, said:
“The superb facilities in the Bragg building will allow us to engineer materials at the atomic and molecular scale, and undertake internationally-leading science and engineering. It will also allow us to strengthen further our extensive interaction with academia and industry and build new research partnerships.
It creates an exciting space for undergraduates to learn and for postgraduates to start their research careers.”
The basement of the Bragg building will also be home to the Wolfson Imaging Facility where state-of-the-art instrumentation will enable scientists to see molecules interacting in real time.
A space to collaborate
Professor Nora de Leeuw, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said:
“Experience tells us that the big questions in science will only be tackled when researchers from different disciplines collaborate on solving problems. From the outset, that has been at the heart of the design brief for the new Bragg building. The building is a place for people to collaborate.
Sir William Henry Bragg’s research has shaped science for more than a century. And it is my firm belief that the science that will be conducted in the building that takes his name will extend that legacy.”
New building will ‘accelerate innovation’
The Robotics at Leeds research group will have access to a mock medical operating theatre to develop robotic systems for medicine and healthcare. Director Professor Pietro Valdastri said:
“Having access to a realistic clinical environment will allow researchers to evaluate how clinical staff interact with robotic platforms. This will help us get our ideas and inventions working in the real world much more quickly.”
The University will be looking at ways to open the facilities to industry, to help quicken the pace of innovation.
Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said:
“The University is investing in high-quality student facilities and world-class research capability, which will allow Leeds to continue to play an important role in strengthening the UK’s economic and industrial future.”
Watch the Sir William Henry Bragg Building time-lapse
David Oldroyd, Senior Project Manager in the University’s estate and facilities team, has overseen construction. He said:
“This is the largest single project that the University has undertaken since the 1970s, and the result is stunning.
The building is a testament to the University’s investment in its research capability for decades to come. It creates a vibrant and collaborative space for academics and students to share knowledge and experience.”
The Sir William Henry Bragg Building incorporates the old School of Mining, which was built in 1930. The Portland stone façade of the Grade II listed structure has been retained, but behind it the space has been remodelled and a walkway connects with a new seven-storey glass-and-steel complex with teaching rooms and laboratories designed to meet the rigours of 21st century science.
The building has received an Excellent grading from the independent assessor BREEAM for its sustainability.
Here at Campus Developments, the team are beginning to gear up for Spring 2021 celebrations that will take place to mark major capital development milestones at the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the Sir William Henry Bragg Building.
Over the last few months, and despite the difficulties that have arisen from the pandemic, we have worked hard with our construction partners to keep our key capital development projects moving. The finishing line for the FBS Refurbishment project is starting to come into sight with work by the Contractor Overbury due to finish at the end of February 2021. The investment and improvements will continue driving forward the growth of research income and create a new flexible model for open laboratory and office environments, facilitating collaborative working. Find out more about the latest progress that has been taking place.
Meanwhile, over at the Sir William Henry Bragg Building the BAM contractor team are looking ahead to completing full construction works in February next year. They are currently concluding all the majority of physical works, finalising external landscaping work and completing commissioning activities. The new 15,700m2 building will enable the integration of the University disciplines of Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Computing along with the provision of critical central teaching and social interaction spaces.
Online tours of both projects will be showcased in the Spring and we hope these will be followed by in-person building tours for large numbers of staff once it is safe to do so.