Construction has officially begun on the ambitious £21 million extension to the University of Leicester’s Students’ Union building.
The important milestone was marked by a groundbreaking ceremony attended president & vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Paul Boyle, assistant city mayor and castle ward councillor, Danny Myers, as well as members of the University’s Students’ Union and representatives from construction contractor, Stepnell.
Located at the heart of the University’s campus, the Percy Gee Building will undergo a significant transformation over the next few months.
A new four-storey extension will provide a brand new glazed façade to the building, which will front onto the newly completed Fielding Johnson Square.
This glazed façade provides a much more welcoming approach to the building, especially when lit up after dark.
The extension will house facilities including a large, brand-new food court; double the amount of space for social learning; and a new informatics lab for the study of information science.
Speaking at the event, Professor Paul Boyle said: “I am so pleased to be here today to formally mark the start of this project to extend and complete the modernisation of the Percy Gee Building.
“Situated in the heart of the campus, Percy Gee is the focal point for student activity, and is home to more than 150 different student societies.
“The new facilities will be far more suited to our diverse range of student groups, with a multi-purpose studio for performance societies, a state-of-the-art media suite, and a central location for support services. These plans will complete the modernisation of the Percy Gee Building and deliver an extension to match the quality of the rest of the Students’ Union.
“As we approach our centenary, it is timely to pay tribute to our founding fathers.
In particular, this occasion reminds us of the great contribution and service of Percy Gee who served the University in one capacity or another for more than 40 years, as benefactor, chairman of the university council until 1959, and as the university’s first pro-chancellor.
“He also joined the alumni community as one of our first honorary graduates in 1958.”
President of the Students’ Union, Amy Moran, has commented: “I think it’s really important for students to feel welcome on campus.
“The redevelopment of Percy Gee will bring more central seating and social space to campus so students can relax, study and eat in between lectures and seminars at their leisure.
“It’s a major part of attracting students to our campus so it’s so important that it has a modern and vibrant atmosphere.”
Stepnell regional director Thomas Sewell commented: “We are delighted to be working once again with the University of Leicester to further enhance the student experience by completing the redevelopment of this important facility at the heart of campus life.”
Stepnell will provide a number of work placements giving local people the opportunity to gain industry experience by working under supervision on the Percy Gee Building project.
The company is already providing a number of placements on site arranged through business volunteering charity Leicestershire Cares and will also be offering placements to local students at Leicester College.
The redevelopment, designed by Shepheard Epstein Hunter architects, is set for completion in autumn 2019, ready for the start of the new academic year.
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