Management school launch design competition for £30-40million redevelopment

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Lancaster University’s Management School is set to undergo a major a redevelopment project, which is expected to cost between £30-40 million. The redevelopment is still in its earliest stages and the University has announced a competition in correlation with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in order to choose a suitable design.

The Management School has undergone developments in its relatively recent past, such as the Charles Carter Building built in 2010 and the Hub and Lecture theatre area built five years previously. These new developments however are planned to rejuvenate the central are of the management school, which connects to the Spine, which is the original 1970s building.

Mark Swindlehurst, Lancaster University Director of Facilities spoke to SCAN in detail about the project and the design process. He said that this is area that had been earmarked as an area for improvement as part of the University’s 2012 master-plan for facilities. “Four years ago we knew we were going to do chemistry, we knew we were going to do physics and we knew we were going to do the library and we knew we were going to build engineering so those are projects that are all either coming to completion, as in engineering, or physics which will start in a few months time.

“After looking at the plans for growth for student numbers and the amount for alterations to the existing management school, that’s come to the top of the list in terms of the next building to be developed.”

The design competition involves the University paying five separate design teams £10,000 in order to produce their plans for project before selecting the best of five ideas. When asked why the University decided to pay five separate teams rather than one separate group, Swindlehurst said: “It is a small amount in order to get the best solution and the design team costs will be substantially more than that when we get to the end of the design process but for a competition process we find it is money well spent. It certainly brought the right architects together working on the Spine project.”

He continued, “we just think that the more ideas we get from different teams the better we can the solution which is right for the University going forward.”

The project will be preparing for the future, according to Swindlehurst, who said to SCAN, “we are keen to make sure that the University has something here that is competing on the global stage, and that is how the management school competes for things such as its MBA and its ranking so we want to give something that is really fit for the future.”

Adapting to the ever-increasing number of students using the facilities was also an integral factor behind targeting this as an area for redevelopment. “There is growth in student numbers, there is correlating growth in staff numbers as well, and that, when you combine it with the fact it is at the end of its economic life as a building, shows the need for improvement. Since it was designed in the 1970s the way of working has changed.”

The design competition highlights the official start of the project which is hoped to be completed for opening by the summer of 2019. “It will take us until the end of the year to go through the competition process and appoint the team who we are going to work for so we would envisage that in about October/November we will actually be selecting the final architects”.

“We will start the design process at the beginning of January and that will take us about a year to work through, in terms of all the stakeholder consultations that we have to undertake, all the statutory and technical compliance and design and then we will be looking to go out to the market to procure the build. So we have to tender the works to the contractors with the view to starting on site some time, hopefully in the spring of 2017.”

Swindlehurst said that whilst the building was still suitable for use, structural improvements were important looking forward. “In the last ten years we have invested very little money in those facilities. We have done a little bit of decoration work, a little bit of carpet works, the roof needs replacing in that building, the windows all need replacing, they are inefficient, single-glazed aluminium systems. The heating system is an inefficient system because at the time it is what they built, which is a single pipe system which means no one person has control over the heats within their room.

“We could choose to refurbish it, but we are not sure whether that would give a management school that is fit for the future in terms of how we need to develop the estate. So there comes a time where you have to make a decision to reinvest and the buildings are really stretching at the end of their economic lives. They’ve done really well for us, but the management school has now decided to carry out that reinvestment programme.”

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