Flagship building marks the dawn of a new era in construction education
The University of Wolverhampton formally opened its £45 million School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Springfield super campus on Monday 19th October 2020.
The new building, designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects, is part of the University’s £120 million regeneration of the former brewery site in Wolverhampton.
The virtual celebration was live-streamed on YouTube culminating in a live link-up to an official ribbon cutting ceremony by the Mayor of Wolverhampton, a University graduate, Councillor Claire Darke.
The event included a virtual tour of the new building as well as an opportunity to hear from graduates and students, construction and industry professionals including Mark Farmer, Honorary Graduate and Founding Director & CEO at Cast and Louise Brooke Smith, Honorary Graduate and former Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) President.
The Minister of State for Universities in the Department of Education, Michelle Donelan MP, the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, and Tom Westley, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board, sent messages of support for the ambitious project that will have a major impact on education, skills and the local and regional economy.
Councillor Claire Darke, the Mayor of Wolverhampton, said: “I am privileged to be involved in the Official Opening of the School of Architecture and Built Environment. This is great addition to the educational offer for the University of Wolverhampton and furthermore it is an excellent renovation project which I have followed with great interest. I look forward to seeing the continued regeneration of this area of the city.”
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: ““We wanted to mark this achievement with key industry leaders, our partners and stakeholders who have supported and sponsored the project from day one, as well as celebrate with our staff, students and graduates.
“This really is the dawn of a new era in construction education. The completion of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Springfield Campus is the University’s flagship project, which has taken several years to come to life.
“Instrumental to the City of Wolverhampton’s broader regeneration plans, it acts as an exemplar of the regeneration of a brownfield site. As a Construction Centre for Excellence, it also addresses the need to train and upskill young people to help limit the shortage of individuals entering into the construction industry.”
Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "This project will make a huge contribution to skills and employment in the region. This is a catalyst for transformation - a symbol of the City's resurgence, helping us to re-imagine our City Centre and transforming it."
Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, said: "The University of Wolverhampton's key aims - innovation and opportunity - can transform and catapult lives. Innovation is the key to the future success of universities. We need to tackle skills shortages and, through projects like this, we are making our technical education world-leading.
"This University has always championed social mobility and this is another step forward. This is an amazing facility that will truly boost the Midlands Engine and act as a catalyst of skills regeneration."
Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, said: "Huge congratulations go out to the University and its partners for its vision and insight. This is a wonderful piece of architecture in its own right. With this kind of expertise in the Built Environment and Brownfield Regeneration, we can lead Britain and the world. So important for our region."
Tom Westley, Chair of the Black Country LEP, said: "The development of Springfield will be fundamental to the growth of the region. We have identified two transformational sectors which are key to growth including construction and manufacturing and this new School will shape the next generation of industry leaders. The building itself is a great example of how to regenerate an historic site.
"This will provide real opportunities for both young and old and will benefit us locally, nationally and internationally."
Louise Brooke-Smith, Honorary Graduate of the University and the former President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: "This really is 'phoenix rising from the ashes.' The history embedded here is phenomenal - linking history with modern."
Mark Farmer, Honorary Graduate and Founding Director & CEO at Cast, said: "This project has been a long time in the making and is a really important milestone. Springfield's vision is in line with what education needs to be doing in the Built Environment and Construction sector. We need to maximise employability to create capability. This is the time to be bold and do things differently to keep up with the seismic changes ahead."
Professor Mohammed Arif, Head of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University, said: "This is the dawn of a new era in construction education. We need to think outside of the box and our impact will be outside of the classroom. Springfield is not just a destination. Outside this new building there are 6 acres full of endless possibilities, we won't stop at this building.
"We are a local University but we are proud of our global reach and impact. We are the University of limitless opportunities."
Anyone interested in the Springfield regeneration project can watch the live stream on YouTube: University of Wolverhampton Springfield Campus Official Opening.
The 7,900 square metre build has used a mix of pre-cast white concrete, bronze metal cladding and glazing over three floors. An impressive saw-tooth roof echoes the historic industrial buildings that stood on the site.
The new School of Architecture and Built Environment offers specialist teaching and social learning spaces, design studios, specialist labs, multi-disciplinary workshops, lecture theatre, cafe, offices, meeting rooms, ICT rooms and a top floor super studio with double height ceilings.
It will provide space for nearly 1,100 existing students and 65 staff, with the number of students projected to grow over time to 1,600.
The School will specialise in supporting skills in architecture, construction, civil engineering, building control, building services, facilities management, quantity surveying, planning, construction management, housing and commercial.
Home to the West Midlands University Technical College, the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, and the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the regeneration of the former Springfield Brewery is central to the University’s vision of enhancing the student experience and supporting business growth. It will also be home to the University’s new National Brownfield Research Institute.
The NBI project is funded by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership through the government’s Get Building Fund and the wider Springfield £120M project has benefited from contributions from the European Regional Development Fund, the Government’s Growth Deals and the former Higher Education Funding Council for England. The School of Architecture and Built Environment was also sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Wedge Group Galvanizing.
The Springfield redevelopment project is being project managed by Rider Levett Bucknall. The design team is also made up of conservation advisors Rodney Melville & Partners, mechanical and engineering by Couch Perry Wilkes, quantity surveying by Faithful and Gould and structural and civils engineer Atkins, which will also provide landscape architecture. Associated Architects have designed the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the School of Architecture and Built Environment and will be leading on the National Brownfield Institute design. Delta Planning have worked on the NBI planning application submission.
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