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Alexandra Square has reopened following the recent construction works carried out as part of the ongoing development and rejuvenation of campus.
The square, located at the heart of the university, closed in August 2010 and since then, various parts of the square have been cordoned off meaning that students, staff and visitors have been unable to fully utilise it. One student said “The last few days of term were a complete pain with the square, as they blocked the entire thing at times.”
A public consultation was held in the summer of 2009 to allow students, staff and visitors to have their say. It allowed them to contribute to the architect’s ideas and help them understand what the square means to its users. The architects then worked on the feedback received to come up with designs for both Alexandra Square and the Underpass.
The feedback received included comments that better lighting was needed, so the new improved square has LED lighting strips on a granite paving design that links the nine colleges. There are also brighter stairways to the Underpass. It was also suggested that more informal seating was needed and as a result, there are now seating planters surrounding existing trees and double height steps for seating. There were further comments concerning the need for improved accessibility between the square and the Underpass. This suggestion was taken into consideration as the newly installed lift descends down to the Underpass in a glazed tower, increasing accessibility. There is also a sloped accessible route through the steps.
Student reaction has been mixed as one said that they thought that it looked “much more open” with the new design, but that the “glass box” which houses the lift looks “out of place”. Another said, “To be honest, I didn’t really notice a big difference. I just noticed the red paint and a couple of benches near the stairs to the Underpass.” A third student said that she thought “It looks nice. But, I am not convinced it is worth the hassle of having the square closed for nearly 12 months.”
LUSU President Robbie Pickles said, “I believe that Alexandra Square was long due an overhaul and that the new revamped design has already proved popular with students. It is worth remembering that it isn’t actually finished yet- some of the paving slabs are temporary and there are some finishing works which still need doing- the LED lights haven’t been installed for example.”
The Facilities team responsible for the Alexandra Square project said that, “There is no delay to the Alexandra Square rejuvenation project which was completed on schedule over Easter. The refurbishment of the Underpass however is not yet complete. This is because additional work came to light during the refurbishment and we took the decision to have this work completed while the Underpass was already closed, rather than cause further inconvenience by closing it again at a later date. We are sorry for the delay but we felt it was important to complete the work while alternative travel arrangements were in place. We anticipate that the Underpass will be open by September.”