Sir David Attenborough opens new Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester

Posted by pt91 at Feb 08, 2016 11:55 AM |
GSSArchitecture-designed building opened by longstanding broadcaster

Issued by GSS Architecture on 1 February 2016

Sir David Attenborough officially opened the new £1.5 million gallery extension at the Attenborough Arts Centre, at the University of Leicester, on Friday, 29th January 2016.

The gallery is an inclusive multi-use Arts Centre, located at the University of Leicester’s Campus, and is a purpose-made home for contemporary visual art. Designed by GSSArchitecture, the new wing has increased the size of the arts building by 50%, and has created a series of interlinked spaces together with an external sculpture garden, which will be open to the public, ultimately making it one of the largest contemporary art spaces in the East Midlands.

The original Richard Attenborough Centre was completed in 1997, the result of a campaign championed and led by Sir David’s late brother Lord Attenborough. One of only two purpose-built accessible Arts Centres in the East Midlands for the promotion of arts and disability, it is a winner of a Royal Institute of British Architects’ Award for Arts and Health, and cited as “an outstanding example of universal design” on the English Heritage’s Disability in Time and Place website.

The publicly-accessible art gallery uses the latest technology and will deliver three temporary exhibitions per year, giving free entry to the public. Extending the current ‘performance and creative learning’ offer, the gallery will endeavour to encourage new audiences and communities to engage with Attenborough Arts’ programming. The gallery will also bring local, national and international contemporary art to eager audiences in Leicester, uniquely adding to the cultural value and vitality of the city.

The official opening of the gallery coincides with the launch of a new exhibition by internationally acclaimed artists Lucy and Jorge Orta; the exhibition explores issues concerning environmental change and its social implications and will run from Saturday, 20th January until Sunday, 24th April 2016.

Sir David Attenborough said “What impresses me about this new building is not actually nostalgia, but it is very much the people and seeing 21st century ideas of how a university should be - which is part of the community, which is embracing new ideas, which is at the cutting edge of human knowledge and understanding; so it is a vibrant and exciting place, with people doing vibrant and exciting things, and I’m not here on journey through a nostalgic past, I’m here to welcome an exciting future.”

Michaela Butter, Director of the Attenborough Arts Centre, said “Our centre is a living tribute to the vision of David Attenborough's brother to create an arts centre without barriers to access. Our new galleries open up access to the visual arts to complement our existing programme of performances, courses and workshops across other art forms. With over 55,000 visitors each year we offer a welcoming and fun place to enjoy a wide range of arts activity, much of it for free, all year round.”

GSSArchitecture Partner-in-Charge, Tom Lyons said “It has been a great pleasure to work with Attenborough Arts and the University of Leicester to deliver their exciting new gallery spaces, which will allow them to build on the tremendous work they do in making the creative arts available and accessible to all. This is an exciting and positive boost for the Arts in the East Midlands and nationally.”


(L-R) Michaela Butter, Director of the Attenborough Arts Centre; Tom Lyons, Partner of GSSArchitecture; Sir David Attenborough; Paul Harkin, Architect at GSSArchitecture and Jonathan Clements, Project Manager at University of Leicester.

For further information and for images, please contact:
Nicole Page
01536 513165
Tom Lyons
01536 513165

Founded in 1879, GSSArchitecture is one of the leading national architectural, quantity surveyors and top consultant practices. We have six partners and a total strength of around fifty, and with offices in Kettering, Harrogate and Gloucester we cover the whole of England and Wales. With substantial experience across all sectors, we have a number of "blue chip" companies and organisations among our clients. GSSArchitecture’s newsletter and website are available at for further information, or for regular news and updates, visit our Facebook page or follow @GSSArchitecture on Twitter.

Multimedia content from the University of Leicester available for media use:

Photographs from the press conference and tour of the gallery (credit: University of Leicester):

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