The University of Leeds has announced ambitious plans to create a flagship building for students and staff at the heart of the western campus, supported by a generous gift from the Laidlaw Foundation.
In partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) the University has commissioned an architectural competition to design the building, which attracted submissions from around the world. O’Donnell and Tuomey, an award-winning Dublin-based architectural firm, has been named winner of the competition and will work with the University to develop detailed plans.
The building will be the focal point for student enterprise and innovation activity on campus. It will also provide a range of key facilities, including space for study and social learning, educational outreach activity, and support for employability, careers and skills development.
The investment is a key part of plans to expand Leeds University Business School (LUBS) and the School of Law, creating an inspirational environment for staff and students, and a welcoming environment for visitors.
The student hub that will be open to all students will be situated on University land adjacent to the Maurice Keyworth Building, home of LUBS, and the Liberty Building, home of the School of Law.
Professor Julia Bennell, Deputy Dean of Leeds University Business School, said: “The University provides an outstanding educational experience for all of our students and the student hub will enhance this by bringing together support for student enterprise, innovation skills development and careers in one exceptional space.
“The creation of innovative and sustainable educational space will also give the Business School and the School of Law the room that we need to grow. The appointment of an award-winning architectural practice signifies our intent to develop an outstanding building and I look forward to working closely with O’Donnell & Tuomey to develop our vision.”
Irvine Laidlaw, who established the Laidlaw Foundation, studied Economics at Leeds in the 1960s. He has also supported the Laidlaw Library, and an ongoing programme of Laidlaw Scholarships.
Lord Laidlaw said: “The University has a long-standing tradition of welcoming students from less well-off backgrounds to Leeds and helping them to achieve their potential. I am delighted that the Laidlaw Foundation is supporting the development of this building, which reflects my philosophy of education as a driver for social advancement.”