Historic England to view work on preserving University of Leicester’s iconic Engineering Building

Posted by er134 at Oct 03, 2016 11:25 AM |
Representatives of heritage organisation to visit regeneration projects across Leicester on Tuesday 4 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 3 October 2016

Photographers are welcome to accompany the visit to the Engineering Building on 4 October. Please arrive at the entrance to the Engineering Building at 3.30pm. Register your attendance at: er134@le.ac.uk

Background information and images can be found here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/for-journalists/the-engineering-building-roof-project-1

Painstaking work to replace the iconic roof of the University of Leicester’s historic Engineering Building is to be examined by heritage experts this week.

Key regeneration sites within Leicester City Centre are being visited on Tuesday 4 October by Historic England, the Government’s principal adviser on the historic environment.

Historic England’s Commissioners, their Chairman Sir Laurie Magnus and Chief Executive Duncan Wilson will be welcomed by Sir Peter Soulsby the City’s elected Mayor and Leicester City Council to celebrate and see specific heritage led regeneration projects including the Cathedral, Richard III Visitor Centre, Friars Mill, Leicester Castle and the University of Leicester Engineering Building.

The Grade II* listed Engineering building, designed by James Stirling and James Gowan is regarded internationally as one of our iconic 20th century post-modernist structures.  It is well known for its impressive 3-dimensional saw-tooth roof which terminates in a series of points and diamonds.  When it was built in the 1960s, this complex and ambitious roof was largely untested.

The building is still used for teaching and the University is investing substantially in repairing the building to improve its technical performance and comfort for users.  It has embraced the challenge to replace the roof whilst preserving its original design form.

Following detailed negotiations with the University, Leicester City Council, Historic England and the 20th Century Society, work began on site last year. The aim is that the new roof and other works will provide a faithful recreation of the different geometric profiles and forms and extend the functionality of the building for another fifty years.

Historic England Chairman Sir Laurie Magnus said: “We are thrilled to see the new roof under construction.  This has been a collaborative and positive approach to conserving one of our most iconic post-war historic buildings. We have been delighted to work with the University all the way through this challenging project and recognise their continued commitment to the engineering building.”

The work involves replacing each of the 2,500 glass panels of the innovative 45-degree, patent-glazed, diamond-shaped roof, designed to provide north light to the Engineering research laboratories and workshops.

This complex project requires demanding engineering solutions to overcome the challenges of enhancing an historic building, and contemporary technical requirements. The glazing system for the roof is a bespoke installation where no empirical industry standards can be applied.

Pete Bale, Project Manager from the University of Leicester, said: “Without the collaborative resolve and partnership between the University, the heritage stakeholders, designers and contractors this complex project would not have come to fruition and this significant piece of post-war heritage would not have received the attention that it deserves. It has been a privilege to work with all concerned and I am delighted the University is safeguarding for this structure for future generations.”

Chris Shaw, Assistant Director in the University of Leicester’s Development and Alumni Relations Office, said: “There is worldwide interest in the Engineering Building, especially amongst Engineering Alumni, many of whom return periodically to renew their acquaintance with it. They will be thrilled to see work in progress on the roof and the ongoing upkeep of this architectural masterpiece.”

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to welcome Historic England to Leicester and share the city’s great heritage story with them.

“Celebrating the Story of Leicester and its built-heritage is at the heart of our ambitious plans to ensure that Leicester continues to grow as a prosperous city, an attractive visitor destination and a great place to live and work.

“I am proud that, alongside the council-led regeneration of key buildings and historic areas in the city, Leicester can showcase some fine examples of important restoration projects being carried out in partnership with other key stakeholders in the city.

“The advice, support and encouragement offered by Historic England is invaluable in helping ensure we all meet our responsibility to protect, retain and enhance Leicester’s architectural heritage for future generations.”

The Daily Telegraph included the Engineering Building in a national list of the fifty most famous structures in the UK, including Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, in 2008. Among its many other plaudits, it has been hailed as one of the top 10 most inspiring buildings in the UK and most recently, was listed as one of the 'world's best unsung buildings' by The Guardian.

Ends

 

Notes to editors:

For more information, contact Pete Bale at:pb87@le.ac.uk

Debbie Hickman, Historic England Press Office, email Debbie.hickman@historicengland.org.uk

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