Work is well under way at North Cross as construction teams work on the New Engineering and Design Facility for the University of Plymouth
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Plymouth city centre is set to be transformed when a £30m building with a rooftop cafe and garden is completed in 2023. More than 400 workers are on site at North Cross creating the steel skeleton for a large extension and revamping an existing building next to the roundabout.
Construction firm BAM is in charge of building what will be the new engineering, maths and design centre at the University of Plymouth. Crews moved onto the site in April 2021 with the main construction beginning in October for a 91-week build.
The project will create a new home for the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture. It will involve refurbishment of the prominent 1970s Babbage building with new extensions on two sides of the building too.
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Construction staff are stripping cladding from the existing building and have torn out internal walls ready to reconfigure the building. Meanwhile a steel frame is going up for the two-storey extension on the western side. On the northern side, the ground is being prepared with foundations going in and a huge crane has been assembled to create the steel skeleton.
This extension will have a cafe and roof garden on top of the third floor. The building, called the New Engineering and Design Facility (NEDF), will be fashioned externally from brick, tile and cladding and will have a new entrance in James Street.
Greg Browne, project manager for BAM, said: “Situated on the western edge of the campus, this facility will provide an innovative and sustainable new home for the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, and additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
“The facility will include a dedicated new-build component and refurbishment of the 1970s Babbage building, creating more than 10,000sq m of research and teaching space. This will offer enhanced and modern specialist equipment, aligned to staff research and expertise and targeted on activities that support research and enable the university to engage with regional industrial partners.”
Mr Browne said 406 people were working on the NEDF site and the project had created 14 jobs. There have also been 26 work placements, a technical industrial placement, training events and a University of Plymouth graduate and 14 apprentices have worked on the project too.
The NEDF project has been valued at £30m with 48% of all subcontractors coming from within 40 miles of the site. BAM has been responsible for construction at several other prominent Plymouth buildings including the £6.1m One Research Way block at Plymouth Science Park, the £9m UTC Plymouth school at Devonport, and buildings at Plympton Academy (£8.3m), Marine Academy (£8.97m) and Marine AcademyPrimary (£4.2m). BAM has also already built three buildings for the University of Plymouth.
Designed by internationally award-winning architectural practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the engineering and design block received conditional planning approval from Plymouth City Council in late 2020. The site was opened to prospective construction workers and school and student parties during the annual Open Sites week, arranged by Building Plymouth.
The NEDF project is part of an ambitious £100m campus plan for the university which is expected to continue with demolition of the Brunel Building laboratories to make way for a “Civic Heart/Urban Park”. It is intended that the facilities currently in the Brunel Building will be relocated into the NEDF meaning it can eventually front onto a park.
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