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.
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
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
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.
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.