Iconic building is focus of Leicester talk

Posted by pt91 at Mar 16, 2012 10:05 AM |
14th Annual Industry Lecture at University of Leicester on 29 March
Iconic building is focus of Leicester talk

The Engineering Building, as viewed from the Library.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 March 2012

Britain’s most iconic building of the mid 20th Century will be the subject of the 14th Annual Industry Lecture at the University of Leicester’s Department of Engineering.

“Leicester's Engineering Building:  Architectural Dream - Engineering Nightmare?” is the title of the lecture to be delivered by Alan Berman from Berman Guedes Stretton Architects and Thomas Pearson from Arup.

The lecture, organised in conjunction with the Engineering Society, takes place on Thursday 29 March at 6pm in the Rattray Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester.

Head of Department Professor John Fothergill said: “The Engineering Building at the University of Leicester - designed by Architects Stirling and Gowan - is considered one of the most important and iconic buildings of the 20th Century. 

“Architects travel the world to see it and it has appeared on postage stamps and artworks of the time.  It is protected from change by having been listed Grade II*.  Yet, from the first day, its technical performance was poor and it has had technical problems associated with its use of new materials and techniques.”

A project to preserve and enhance the building was announced by the University last year. The roof and glazed walls of the 1960s building have reached the end their useful life and, in consultation with English Heritage (amongst others), the University of Leicester is investing in the building to extend its functionality for another 50 years.

Alan Berman, of Berman Guedes Stretton Architects, and Thomas Pearson of Arup who are leading the design team, will talk about why this building is so renowned, how it relates to the English tradition of glass buildings, and the engineering challenges that the project will have to face.

The project will involve replacing all the glazing panels in the famous sculptural, diamond‐shaped roof, and the vertical walls of the workshops.

Alan Berman was born in South Africa, studied architecture at Cambridge and UCL, and set up a practice shortly after qualifying: this has grown to 50 strong in Oxford and London. Standing down as a director recently he now concentrates on design and  writes and lectures on contemporary architecture and its roots. Alan is a passionate advocate for modern design, but a critic of much current architecture. Amongst many hobby horses is his concern that while most people claim an understanding of style and decoration, the process of design is poorly understood. His book "Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy - Three Radical Buildings" in which the Department of Engineering figures large  aims to explain the importance of Stirling, and his early collaborator James Gowan, on architectural thinking. Alan is engaged on another book on Stirling and also other architecture of the post war period.

Thomas Pearson studied Engineering at Oxford, specialising in early English medieval architecture, and Urban Design at the Bartlett, UCL, where he developed a concern for how building facades operate symbolically in the context of the city. His work for Arup as a facade designer has become increasingly focussed on the restoration of historic buildings. He is interested in how contemporary design can be brought to bear on heritage problems – not least in the re-interpretation of old places for modern life.

· Admission is by ticket only.  However, tickets are available from Julie Hage, Department of Engineering, University of Leicester, jeh33@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2547


Note to newsdesk: For more information contact

Julie Hage

Engineering Department

University of Leicester

Tel: 0116 252 2547

Email: jeh33@le.ac.uk

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