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The Management School’s new Charles Carter building has been delayed, failing to meet an already revised December 2010 deadline.
The building, an unmistakable presence opposite the George Fox building, was initially scheduled to be completed by early September 2010 following a 59 week construction programme. Newsletters pertaining to the progress of the build had been placed upon the facilities website at regular intervals between July 2009 and October 2010, at which point they ceased to be updated.
The building, whose namesake was the University’s Founding Chancellor between 1963 and 1979, is designed to house lecture theatres, seminar rooms, offices and social learning space.
The delays were evidently unanticipated, as groups of students who were intended to have lectures in the building were relocated to other rooms. In several instances these new lecture theatres lack facilities which would have been available had the project been completed.
Communications officer for Facilities Louisa Duff countered these claims: “As soon as it was evident that the building wouldn’t be ready for this term, lectures were rescheduled through the live LUVLE system and departmental secretaries were notified in advance so no disruption was caused as they continued to use the lecture theatres they had.”
One second year Management student who was supposed to be in the building this term said she wasn’t particularly concerned about the time delays “as building work is renowned for taking longer than expected”.
She added, however, that “the downside is that some lectures that were supposed to be in that building, are now in smaller lecture theatres or older ones without amenities like plug sockets.” This last detail is undeniably unfortunate as numerous students use laptops during the lectures. There is the possibility that the lack of necessary equipment could negatively affect the student learning experience.
Facilities’ staff have been quick to dismiss suggestions of financial problems associated with previous projects such as the delayed Pendle Bar refurbishment earlier this academic year. At the time of writing the contractors were unavailable for comment, the Charles Carter delays have been blamed upon the Lancaster weather, rain and cold having slowed productivity over the winter weeks.
An example of this weather disruption was evident in the inability of the work team to pour concrete due to cold conditions. The team had also been increased to working Saturdays due to the perceived delays.
Many students quizzed whilst passing the building seemed unconcerned about the building delays mainly due to the fact that they had been unaware of the original deadline. Indeed, most changed subject to the Alexandra Square rejuvenation, expressing scepticism that it too would be completed in time for its March 2011 deadline. Whether this will in fact be the case remains open to speculation.
Several students did raise an issue with the safety of the paving in the recently completed George Fox Square, work on which had also been delayed due to adverse weather conditions.
The individuals complained that the paving outside the building could get slippery after rainfall. Upon investigation, the landscape architects replied that “the slabs are conservation slab, smooth ground, which complies with the relevant British standard”, adding that “wet, dirt or icy conditions can affect surface friction and increase the likelihood of slips on all external paving materials”.
However, at ground level, the majority of comments were positive. One second year girl praised in particular how well lit the entire area had been throughout the project, saying that the bulkhead lighting had given her a ‘sense of security when walking across campus to a friend’s flat before a night out’, particularly during the darker winter months.
A number of students expressed annoyance at the continued presence of scaffolding around campus; however, the general consensus was that it was necessary and that the outcome of the building work would compensate for any inconvenience.