Work to create a £54 million world-class building for science research and teaching in the centre of Bristol is on schedule for completion later this year.
The concrete structure of the new University of Bristol’s Life Sciences building, which sits on the site of the Old Children’s Hospital at the top of St Michael’s Hill, was officially completed in February.
The listed frontage of the Old Children’s Hospital will be retained. The rest of the site will be transformed to house the School of Biological Sciences, currently located in early 1900s listed building on Woodland Road.
This flagship project, coupled with a raft of new academic appointments, underscores the University’s belief that many of the 21st century’s most exciting and important scientific advances will come from biology and that the next generation of biology graduates will have unprecedented opportunities.
Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University, tightened the final bolt as part of a traditional topping-out ceremony to signify the completion of the building’s external structural work by VINCI Construction UK.
A huge 22,000 tons of concrete and 1,000 tons of steel have been used to create the iconic 13,500 square metre building, which currently has 100 people working on it.
Since the structure was erected, external cladding and window installation has been taking place, before state-of-the art laboratories, teaching spaces and offices are created – using enough plasterboard to cover seven football pitches.
Construction work is due to be completed at the end of 2013, by which point a total of 2,000 people will have worked on the project since it began in the summer of 2011.
Professor Thomas said: “We’re excited to have reached this pivotal stage of the project and to see the building taking shape. Many of tomorrow’s advances will come from the Life Sciences and so it is fitting that this significant new building will be the hub for our world-renowned research and teaching in this area.”
It’s the University’s biggest construction project to-date and signifies its commitment to biological sciences research. The central location and cutting-edge facilities will improve collaboration with departments across the University, including the next-door Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information (NSQI), other science departments and the Medical School.
The iconic building, designed by architects Sheppard Robson, will house the School of Biological Sciences and will be split into three zones, including a five-storey laboratory wing complete with acoustic chambers, spectroscopy and microscope rooms, clean rooms, a double height plant room and green houses for plant studies.
A central atrium will provide the focal point, leading to both the laboratory wing and a five-storey office wing, which will largely house administration, computer facilities, seminar rooms and a cafe.
Gary Foster, Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology, said: “It’s exciting to see the new Life Sciences building taking shape so rapidly and we can’t wait to move in at the end of the year. This investment is a major move by the University of Bristol in this field, making it an exciting and ideal place to carry out research over the coming years.
“The new building will also provide outstanding laboratories for science teaching and will enhance the undergraduate experience by facilitating research-led study and staff-student interaction.”
The project includes an extension to the historic Royal Fort Gardens and new pedestrian links to St Michael’s Hill and Tyndall Avenue. The building and surrounding area has been rated BREEAM Excellent, being highly sustainable and environmental friendly. The building will incorporate Green Living Walls and areas to contain plants which will promote wildlife within the area.
Patrick Finch, Bursar at the University of Bristol, added: “It’s fantastic to reach the topping-out stage after so many years of planning, preparation and actual construction. Once complete, the Life Sciences building will transform this key area of the precinct and the new public realm will be a major improvement – somewhere we hope staff, students and visitors alike will be able to enjoy.”
Further details about the project are available at: www.bris.ac.uk/estates/.