Complex project to replace the innovative Stirling and Gowan glass panelled roof is completed.
The ambitious project to replace the roof of the University of Leicester’s world-famous Engineering Building, which saw all the 2,500 glass panels of the diamond-shaped roof reconstructed and replaced to exacting standards, has been officially completed.
Taking nearly two years of intricate work on site to accomplish, the extraordinary results of this technically demanding project will be celebrated by the University next week at an event on Monday 9 October.
The University of Leicester has invested substantially in repairing its Grade II* listed Engineering building to improve its technical performance and comfort for users.
The complex project, delivered by a consortium of partners including Lendlease and other trade packages, required demanding engineering solutions to overcome the challenges of enhancing an historic building, and contemporary technical requirements, whilst maintaining the exterior aesthetic. The glazing system for the roof is a bespoke installation where no empirical industry standards could be applied.
Pete Bale, who was Project Manager while at the University of Leicester, said: “The new glass roof and façade to the Stirling and Gowan Engineering Building has exceeded the expectations of all those that can now see it, including many within the project team.
“The reproduction of the original detailing has brought new meaning and life to the old structure. The way the light changes and reflects on the facets throughout the day is truly beautiful, and is testament to the original design. I am immensely proud to have been involved in the restoration of this iconic building for the University and future generations.
“Without the collaborative resolve and partnership between the University, the City Council, heritage stakeholders, designers and contractors, this complex project would not have come to fruition and this significant piece of post-war heritage would not have received the attention that it deserves. It has been a privilege to work with all concerned and I am delighted the University is safeguarding for this structure for future generations.”
Simon Gorski, Lendlease’s Executive General Manager of UK Regions, said: “Replacing the world-renowned roof of this iconic engineering structure was a feat of engineering in itself in which no stone was left unturned to enhance this famous UK structure.
“It is testament to the expertise of our team that by working in close partnership with the University we have rejuvenated this building to meet 21st century standards, while working within the constraints of the original 1960s design. Retrofitting existing buildings is an important part of the ongoing maintenance of the UK’s property stock and this is a good case study of what can be achieved.”
Professor Jingzhe Pan, Acting Head of the Department of Engineering, said: “I am delighted to see the results of the work on the Engineering Building roof, which looks stunning. There have been considerable technical and engineering challenges in delivering this project and it has been a pleasure to see how Lendlease, Arup, the professional and trade contractors, and our own Estates team, overseen by Pete Bale, have worked together to overcome these. The Department of Engineering at Leicester will greatly benefit from the improved environment that it has created.”
Annie Provan, Leicester City Council building conservation team leader, said: “From a building conservation and planning perspective, this project was a huge challenge and we are immensely proud of what has been achieved.
“To replace the entire roof of such a complex and iconic building was major undertaking and we all shared a tremendous sense of responsibility to this major piece of twentieth century architecture. The skill, professionalism and attention to detail shown by all partners has successfully secured a long-term future for this amazing Leicester building.”
An event to mark the completion of the roof will be held on Monday 9 October at 6.30pm at the University of Leicester’s Event Square and is open to the public but spaces are limited. Reserve a place via the Eventbrite Page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/university-of-leicester-engineering-roof-celebration-event-tickets-37331241749
Guests will hear from a range of speakers including Catherine Cockcroft, Chief Executive of the 20th Century Society, Thomas Pearson, Senior Designer & Conservationist at Arup, Ellis Woodman, Director of the Architecture Foundation and Daily Telegraph architecture correspondent as well as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Paul Boyle. Presentations will be followed by a lighting display and tours of the building to celebrate the success of the project with the event coming to an end at 9pm.
It is sponsored by Arup, Lendlease, Cundall, Pick Everard, Lyndon Scaffolding and P&R Morson.
Designed by architects Stirling and Gowan, the Grade II* listed building is recognised internationally as one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century and is considered an architectural icon. The building, constructed in the 1960s, had a unique glass roof and vertical glazed panels system which reached the end of its useful life.
Following detailed negotiations with the University, Leicester City Council, Historic England and the 20th Century Society, work began on site in 2015. The aim was that the new roof and other works will provide a faithful recreation of the different geometric profiles and forms and extend the functionality of the building for another fifty years.
The Daily Telegraph included the Engineering Building in a national list of the fifty most famous structures in the UK, including Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, in 2008. Among its many other plaudits, it has been hailed as one of the top 10 most inspiring buildings in the UK and most recently, was listed as one of the 'world's best unsung buildings' by The Guardian.