Work has started on a £34 million Learning and Teaching Centre for Newcastle University based on Newcastle Science Central which is set to open in September 2019.
Sir Robert McAlpine, a leading UK building and civil engineering company, has been appointed by Newcastle Science Central LLP to create an inspirational and sustainable learning and teaching environment that will enhance the student experience.
Designed by architects Sheppard Robson, the facility will provide a 722 seat, high quality auditorium that can be sub-divided flexibly to provide two separate operational lecture theatres, plus a 200 seat tiered lecture theatre for collaborative group teaching.
Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Newcastle University, said: “By developing exciting, new, purpose-built educational spaces, such as the Learning and Teaching Centre, we will secure our future as one of the UK’s leading universities. This project reflects our commitment to delivering the best possible experience for our students through our continued focus on providing learning opportunities of the highest standard, supported by our five-year, £500m programme of investment.
“In addition to providing modern learning facilities for up to 2,200 students across three floors, the centre will also provide exhibition space, café and expansive social learning spaces.
Spanning over 24 acres of mixed use prime city-centre development land, Newcastle Science Central is the largest development of its kind in the UK. A new urban quarter in the centre of Newcastle, it is an exemplar of sustainable urban development and is attracting leading edge scientific and technology organisations to a mixed community, encompassing a variety of R&D, educational, business and residential uses.
The Sheppard Robson design includes the creation of a significant area of new public realm, which will connect Science Square, with a softer landscaped Knowledge Square. Terracing will step down from this pocket park, with the landscaping scheme continuing to wrap around the building along Draymans Way. Integral to the landscape design is a discrete sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS), which slows down and holds back rainwater run-off from the site.
Rupert Goddard, partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “With the start of construction, we are one step closer to delivering a project which – by deftly weaving together social spaces with flexible auditoria – will promote modern ways of learning and teaching.
”We wanted our design to communicate the pivotal role this facility will have to the campus and wider University, with a strident design that resonates both with the campus context and the city’s history of scientific innovation.”
Appointed as the main contractor for the Learning and Teaching Centre, Sir Robert McAlpines’ involvement in the project follows on from its delivery of The Core building which was the first building to have been completed as part of the Science Central development.
Project Manager Lee Wayper said: “It feels fantastic to have begun work on site and we look forward to building on the relationships we have established with Newcastle University and the project team as we work to realise the vision for this exciting project.
“This inspiring building with cutting edge learning and teaching facilities will continue the evolution of this part of the city.
We also look forward to strengthening our ties with the surrounding community to ensure they are kept fully updated on progress and reap the benefit of this flagship development.”
Muckle LLP, the North East’s leading independent law firm has provided specialist legal advice on site acquisition, agreement and the procurement process.
Lucilla Waugh, partner in Muckle LLP’s construction team, said: “We are delighted to be helping the university progress its developments at Science Central, as part of its strategic mission to deliver teaching and facilitate learning of the highest quality, with an aim to be ‘Top 20 in the UK for student satisfaction.”