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Construction work complete on ‘truly remarkable’ Life Sciences building

Left to right: Professor Gary Foster, Paul Cooper, Patrick Finch, Professor Jane Memmott and Kieran Mulrooney, Senior Project Manager at VINCI Construction UK

The atrium of the new Life Sciences building Fotohaus

The terrace of the Sky Lounge, overlooking Bristol Fotohaus

1 July 2014

Construction work to create a new £54 million world-class building for science research and teaching in the heart of Bristol is now complete.

The Life Sciences building, at the top of St Michael’s Hill, is the University of Bristol’s biggest construction project to-date and will be officially opened by Sir David Attenborough later this year.

With the keys having been officially handed over by the main contractor, VINCI Construction UK, staff have started to move equipment into the iconic 13,500 square metre building.

A total of 2,000 people have worked on the project since it began in the summer of 2011, replacing a variety of derelict buildings which originally formed part of the Old Children’s Hospital complex.

Professor Gary Foster, who has been leading the project on behalf of the School of Biological Sciences, said: “We have waited a very long time for this building but it has been well worth the wait. The building is stunning inside and out, and finished to a very high standard.  As a colleague commented, it is obvious that the building has been designed by scientists for scientists, in conjunction with our architects and it is this message that shines through in the world-class facilities.”

The newly constructed Life Sciences building provides state of the art teaching and research laboratory space, together with seminar rooms, library, learning and social spaces and staff offices. 

The building, designed by the architects Sheppard Robson, forms a new landmark on the Bristol skyline.  It will provide its occupiers with some of the best accommodation in the world for Life Sciences teaching and research.

Split into three zones, the building includes a five-storey laboratory wing complete with acoustic chambers, spectroscopy and microscope rooms, clean rooms, a double height plant room and green houses for plant studies.

It even boasts a 41 foot-high ‘living wall’ on the side of the building which hosts 11 different species of plant as well as bat and bird boxes.

The building has been designed to achieve the environmental accreditation BREEAM Excellent and represents a major part of the University’s drive to provide energy efficient laboratories.

The site is also the subject of a major public realm and landscape improvement plan which is now well underway. 

A new flight of steps from St Michael’s Hill to the Royal Fort will be open shortly and landscaping will link the new Life Sciences building to the rest of the Royal Fort garden.  This will include a stunning piece of public art by the artist Katie Paterson. 

Patrick Finch, Bursar at the University, added: “It has taken some time to manage the completion of building works but now that the site has been cleared of construction activities, a truly remarkable building is emerging.  With the completion of the landscape, the eastern end of the precinct will be totally transformed, while leaving sufficient space for further major developments in the future.

“It has taken a huge amount of hard work by many people to achieve this current milestone, particularly in the Estates Office and in the School of Biological Sciences.  I would especially acknowledge the sustained efforts of Gary and his team in the School of Biological Sciences – getting this project over the line has been very much a team effort.”

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