Esther Simpson Exterior

New flagship building is a stunning new gateway to campus

The Esther Simpson building, a new flagship teaching facility for the School of Law and LUBS officially opened its doors at the start of term.   

The innovative teaching centre provides world-class facilities that support participative learning and create an inspirational setting for staff and students. It is also home to collaborative and inclusive learning spaces to enable the delivery of activities to support students to develop the knowledge, skills, behaviours and professional competencies to better equip them for working in a global environment. 

Building completion

The building was handed over to the University by construction company BAM in early September and over the last few weeks the final fit-out stage has been completed. The building hosts a variety of teaching spaces, a new café and a beautifully designed new artwork sculpture.  

Commenting on the building, Director of Estates, Steve Gilley said:

“We are absolutely delighted with the Esther Simpson building, it is a fabulous building which contributes to the University’s wider ambition to create an environment that promotes learning, innovation and enterprise.  

“The success of this project has been a result of diligent project management by colleagues in Estates and strong collaboration with colleagues in LUBS and Law. Throughout, we have worked together to ensure everything worked in the best possible manner.  

“The building also creates a stunning new gateway for campus. Our University community will now be able to easily navigate their way from Clarendon Road into the heart of campus in a matter of minutes. The route is fully accessible with newly refurbished pedestrian paths and tactile paving in addition to an accessible ramp installed along the route towards Storm Jameson.” 

Executive Dean of the Business School, Julia Bennell said:

“The teaching facilities provided by the Esther Simpson building are truly state-of-the-art and among the best in the UK. It will offer an inspiring environment for our staff and students. The technology enhanced collaborative learning spaces, specialist observation laboratories, trading rooms and a magnificent Harvard style lecture theatres are critical parts of our strategy to lead in interactive pedagogies. 

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everybody who has contributed to delivering this project. It is a wonderful achievement and one that will go a long way to supporting us in delivering our new ambitious University and Business School strategies. 

“The building will give us a platform to deliver something truly unique for business school students and help us to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and behaviours needed to make a real difference to society.” 

Benefits of the teaching spaces

Trading rooms 

The Esther Simpson Building will benefit from having two 24 seat trading rooms. The primary trading room will be a real showpiece for the building and is housed in a glass room visible from the main reception area. Having the trading rooms will allow students to practice trading in a safe environment using real time information. It helps bridge the gap between theory and practice, giving students the opportunity to apply finance theories to decision making through real world scenarios 

Behaviour labs

There are behaviour labs that are divided into three areas, the data collection lab, observation room and the boardroom. These are a real differentiator for the Business School and will enable students and researchers to undertake real-time observational research and data collection. 

Lecture theatres

As well as a wide range of teaching spaces the building has two state-of-the-art lecture theatres – a 240 seat Harvard Style lecture theatre and a 390-seat traditional lecture theatre. The Harvard-style lecture theatre is gently raked to give good vision for all users and each seat will turn 180 degrees to allow for easier collaboration. Both lecture theatres are designed with plenty of space between the seats, have individual power supplies, are decorated to promote concentration and allow students to interact digitally with the academic staff. 

Professor Louise Ellison, Head of School, School of Law added:

 “The School of Law is incredibly excited about the opening of the Esther Simpson building. We aim to create a campus environment that is truly inspirational and that meets the standards that we set as one of the UK’s leading law schools.  

“This new building will help provide a transformative teaching space close to our Liberty Building home on the Western Campus and allow us to further develop our student experience.” 

Beautifully designed sculpture

The building is also home to a striking new sculpture installation which joins many other unique pieces to form the University artwork trail. The words titled “To Leaf is to Learn” scripted by University Poet Laureate and Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage    adorn the sculpture and illustrate the concept of the artwork representing a notebook sheet.  

Commenting on the artwork and the unique opportunity to create the sculpture, world-renowned Spanish sculptor, Juanjo Novella said:   

“This is my first artwork in the UK, and I am honoured! I am very pleased with the sculpture. I planned this project as a realm of limitations such as a lack of adequate space to display a sculpture, obstacles such as the tree, the fence, and the need to keep the electrical substation hidden. Those cons were a real challenge and I enjoyed it. The result had to be a unique answer, it had to be beautiful and meaningful while meeting the environmental and place demands. 

“I’m also very happy it forms part of the University of Leeds art trail. It is distinguished from other art routes by its expressive silence and elegant tone. The pieces are part of the architecture, they are not ‘screaming’, all of them remain calm and their expression is slow and deep. It also represents a historical trace in terms of time.”

Layla Bloom, Curator, University Galleries commented:

“Novella’s ‘Curtain’ sculpture is a stunning addition to the University’s growing public art trail. The collaboration between artist and poet adds such an inspiring message for our students, welcoming them to the joy of learning.  It also highlights the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability – on a grand scale.

The Esther Simpson Building

Find out more about the project.

Cleaning Operative cleaning sinks in Newlyn Building

Committed to providing a safe, clean environment on campus

Cleaning Services have published their new transitional Service Level Agreement. This transitional SLA has been established due to the requirements for enhanced cleaning of campus facilities and the continued uncertainties around transitional and future ways of work on campus. It sets out how Cleaning Services will continue to ensure that campus is a safe and clean environment conducive to learning and working. It is an output specification that can be readily adapted to service requirements if circumstances change over the coming months.  

All members of the University community will notice more frequent cleaning of high footfall areas such as main entrances, internal access routes and washroom facilities. The team will also focus on the sanitising of high touch point areas. This includes door handles, handrails and reception area fixtures and fittings. If you have any concerns about the frequency or quality of cleaning on campus, please let us know via email CleaningComments@leeds.ac.uk 

As well as the increased frequency and standard of cleaning on campus, personal responsibility is another key part of infection control. Cleaning Services are providing sanitising sprays and blue roll across campus so that staff and students can clean working areas before and after using them to reduce the spread of the virus. If you notice more sanitising products are needed in any areas, please advise us through the online ordering form.   

Alongside working on campus to keep it clean and safe throughout the pandemic, the team has put in place several initiatives over the last couple of years aimed at delivering a more professional service to campus. They have undertaken suitable training to ensure that they can provide the necessary standard of service and new cleaning products and equipment have been introduced to improve the standards of cleaning across campus, including sanitising spraying equipment.  

The new methods and products introduced have helped the team to work in a more sustainable manner. For example, the service has purchased new battery powered i-mops which use 75% less water and enable a reduction in the amount of cleaning chemicals used. They have also now moved to purchasing super-concentrate cleaning products enabling less plastic waste. Cleaning Services received the Blueprint Changemaker Award at the 2021 Sustainability Awards to recognise these developments. 

The service has introduced new uniforms for the team with a range of different options. This means that all team members can choose to wear something they feel comfortable in. The new uniforms demonstrate clearly to the rest of the campus community that the cleaning team are a well-trained and professional service. Finally, the team have also adopted new job titles to more accurately represent a modern and professional service:

  • Senior Supervisors are now Operations Managers
  • Cleaning Supervisors are now Operations Team Leaders
  • Charge Hands are now Assistant Team Leaders
  • Cleaners are now Cleaning Operatives
Flowers on campus

Bloomin’ marvellous on campus

Many of us have not been on campus recently, so we wanted to bring the campus to you!

During the summer months, the campus reaches full bloom, and our budding photographers have been taking photos of the amazing displays our Grounds and Gardens team have been working on. Dig in!

 

Esther Simpson Exterior

Final stages of construction for Esther Simpson Building

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.

Bragg Exterior

Bragg transformed as doors nearly open

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.

Thousands of trees planted at Leeds Brownlee Triathlon Centre

5,000 trees planted at the Brownlee Triathlon Centre

University of Leeds and the Environment Agency plant 5000 trees at the Brownlee Triathlon Centre as part of natural measures to reduce flood risk.

The University of Leeds in partnership with the Environment Agency have planted more than 5000 trees at the University’s Brownlee Triathlon Centre to reduce flood risk to the Leeds area downstream.

Tree planting at Bodington Playing Fields, where the Brownlee Triathlon Centre is located, took place between February and March, and is part of a wider programme of natural flood management techniques being introduced into the Leeds catchment as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme’s flagship Natural Flood Management Project. The project is a great example of the University’s partnership approach to addressing the climate crisis through collaborative research and innovation.

The Brownlee Triathlon Centre and surrounding area was earmarked as the first urban pilot site last year as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme’s Natural Flood Management Project – looking at alternative and sustainable ways to manage flood risk and increase resilience to climate change. This will work alongside, and complement, traditional engineering being implemented through the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, whilst also creating habitat for wildlife and helping regenerate rural and urban areas through tourism.

Thousands of trees planted at Leeds Brownlee Triathlon Centre

The scheme is also part of the University of Leeds Living Lab programme, with the site to be used for live research projects to test sustainable solutions; be an integral part of University teaching, and be a location for local schools and communities to visit.

Five sites have been set up to implement natural flood risk management techniques throughout the river catchment from the source of the River Aire, at Malham, through to Leeds City Centre, and are using natural measures such as tree planting and woodland creation, wetland scrapes and leaky barriers to reduce flood risk and benefit the environment.

James Wright, Head of Grounds and Gardens at the University of Leeds, said:

“We are delighted to have been a key partner in this scheme and assisted in the planting of 5000 trees as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Natural Flood Management Project. This work has involved exceptional collaboration between academic and operational colleagues at the University of Leeds and the Environment Agency.

The site will provide significant research opportunities for University of Leeds students and academics for many years undertaking research in a range of specialisms. The site provides a great engagement opportunity for the local community to fully understand the range of NFM solutions installed in the Aire Valley catchment and research undertaken at the University.”

Fiona Sugden, The Environment Agency’s Leeds NFM Project Manager, said:

“It’s fantastic news that 5000 trees have now been planted at this site. The creation of a woodland area will have multiple benefits for people and wildlife – not just reducing flood risk downstream, but will benefit the environment by creating new woodland habitat, boosting biodiversity, help mitigate climate change, whilst also providing valuable opportunities for people to understand how well natural flood techniques perform.

The Triathlon Centre is a real asset for students and the local community, and we hope that visitors will also be able to learn about how effective natural flood management can be.”

Natural flood management is an important part of the Environment Agency’s strategy in protecting communities from flood risk and they work with natural processes and use natural flood management measures where they are technically feasible and provide good value.

It can be a cost-effective and sustainable way to manage flood risk alongside, and supporting, traditional engineering, while creating habitat for wildlife and helping regenerate rural and urban areas through tourism.

For more information about the University’s response to the climate crisis.

For out more about the University of Leeds Living Lab.

Bains wing and The great Wall

Local and Community History Month 2021

May is Local and Community History Month. To celebrate, we’ve collated a collection of old photographs of campus to help increase awareness of local history.

The Bains Wing/Great Hall

  • Construction started on The Great Hall in 1884 and took 10 years to complete.
  • Along with Clothworkers Buildings and Baines Wing, the building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse (famous for his work on the Natural History Museum in London).
  • The red brick style waterhouse used for the buildings helped coin the term ‘red brick university’.

An old photo of The Great Hall

Leeds University Business School (LUBS)

  • The Leeds University Business School (LUBS) acquired the 19th century Maurice Keyworth, previously owned by Leeds Grammar School
  • LUBS have since constructed further modern buildings around the Maurice Keyworth, such as the Clarendon Building and Charles Thackrah Building.

An old photo of the LUBS building which used to be a Grammar school

The Brotherton Library

  • Before the Brotherton Library was built, the undercroft of The Great Hall housed all of the University’s library collections
  • In 1927, Edward Brotherton donated £100,000 to the University to fund its first purpose-built library
  • Today, the Beaux-Arts building is Grade ll listed.

An old photo of the Brotherton Library

Find out more about the history of the University of Leeds.

Sir William Henry Bragg Building project

Summer opening for Sir William Henry Bragg Building

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.

 

Workspace at FBS

Facility boost for Biological Sciences

The Faculty of Biological Sciences teaching and research facilities have been boosted at Leeds following the completion of the refurbishment of the Garstang building, levels 4 and 9. Once the finishing touches have been completed, the floor will be open for business!

Investment and improvements in the Faculty of Biological Sciences have created a new flexible model for open laboratory and office environments, facilitating joint work, all of which will enhance research capacity, research experience and associated research outputs and income.

The improvement works have also reduced the University’s energy consumption and carbon footprint, through upgrades such as window replacement and improved energy efficiencies through heating, cooling and ventilation.

Commenting on the project, Sarah Bacsich, Estates Project Manager said:

“We hope the Faculty and staff enjoy and benefit from working in these new areas and must thank everyone who has been part of this project, the Faculty, estates colleagues, consultant and contractor teams who have all worked together and remained focused on the end result, despite the challenges the project met along the way.

“Looking ahead, the improvements and new facilities on Level 4 and 9 now provide an exciting new environment for the Faculty of Biological Sciences research staff and students – this new home will encourage new ways of working to champion groundbreaking research.”

Karen Birch, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences commented:

“We are all delighted that this phase of the development of the Faculty is complete. Seeing the finished design is really exciting and stimulates the imagination for pushing the boundaries of biomedical research. I am particularly thrilled that our excellent scientists, from postgraduates to Faculty academics will experience working in such a high quality, modern, airy and stimulating space. This new environment will enable enhanced collaborative research to underpin our vision of exploring biological challenges to accelerate real world impact and translation. What a great environment in which to work and develop the science leaders of the future!”

Refurbishment of Level 4 and Level 9 – Virtual tour video

You can get a feel for the new facilities through our virtual tour video:

 

Our external-facing article is also now live on the FBS website.

Find out more about the refurbishment of the Garstang Building.

The Garstang building, levels 4 and 9

new Esther Simpson building artwork

New artwork announced for the Esther Simpson Building

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.”

International Collaboration

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.