Key Sheffield university building to get £20m new look

Multi-million pound refurbishment to bring pioneering building into the 21st century
Multi-million pound refurbishment to bring pioneering building into the 21st century

WORK is to begin this summer on a £20 million refurbishment of one of Sheffield University’s key buildings.

University House, a pioneering structure which broke new ground when it was opened almost 50 years ago, will be upgraded for use by students, staff and the community.

When it opened in 1963 at the heart of the Western Bank campus it was one of the first glass curtain-walled constructions in the world.

The changes will see it integrated with the Students’ Union in one single building for the first time.

The newly refurbished and redesigned building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for student services, and an amphitheatre-style space for special events will be created within the new Octagon Plaza.

There will also be more social and study spaces open for longer hours.

The makeover, which has been designed by Sheffield-based HLM architects, will also have six new meeting rooms and improvements to the City View Cafe and the Fusion and Foundry venues.

The landscaping will include improvements to pedestrian access and the planting of trees and shrubs as natural screens, next to Western Bank.

Robert Smith, a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, spent 12 years at the university from the late 1950s designing 11 buildings – including the Arts Tower and University House – while working for architecture firm Gollins, Melvin and Ward.

He said: “University House was designed to be a bit like the Arts Tower – it was a groundbreaking design. We were pioneers in glass curtain walling and this was one of the very first.

“It was a very fresh building design and very simple. It offered some of the best views of Sheffield and still does now. It was designed to be unrestricted and benefited from not needing offices or room dividers so it was much more open than the other university buildings. We wanted to get as much light in as possible.”

The building has been added to several times and only the Glossop Road side of the building shows how it would have looked originally.

Mr Smith added: “I’m very happy to think the building will continue to be used into the future as it’s special.”

Work will start in July and will be finished by September 2013.