The Fielding Johnson Building, (so called since the 1960’s) currently houses the University administration and the School of Law. It was designed by Wallett and William Parsons and built in 1837 as part of the Leicestershire and Rutland County Lunatic Asylum on Occupation Road (now University Road). In 1914 it was requisitioned by the army for use as a field hospital for wounded soldiers. Thomas Fielding Johnson, a local textile manufacturer, gave the buildings and surrounding 37 acres of land to create a College (now the University) and a school, as a living memorial for those who gave their lives in World War I (reflected in the University's motto Ut Vitam Habeant — 'so that they may have life').
The chapel is said to have been built in 1858, and is now used as the University’s Council Chamber, meeting rooms and office accommodation.
In the mid 1960’s a new ceiling structure was added to the Council Chamber, designed by Trevor Dannatt. The new structure concealed the original Victorian roof structure and soffit, and created a lower ‘lid’, appearing to spring from the top rail of the internal wall panelling, with false windows on the west side to mirror the windows on the east and a new window in the south gable wall.
The project opened up the original volume of the Council Chamber (2012), removing the mid 20C interventions and the early 20C panelling. The orginal form of window and stonework on the south gable has been reinstated.
An openable wall allows greater utilisation but still provides suitable accommodation for full meetings of the Council. Our earlier proposals included mezzanines (shown on the models and visualisations below), but these were not required in the final scheme. The project was recognised in the Leicester Joint Consultative Committee awards for craftsmanship.
Our work has also created open plan offices for student services on the ground floor (the former Crush Hall, 2010), removing 20C cellular accommodation and revealing the original volume.
We are (2015) refurbishing and improving the main entrance, reception and main staircase areas of the Fielding Johnson Building along similar lines: opening up the original volume, revealing original soffits and mouldings previously hidden by suspended ceilings, and simplifying and where possible removing late 20C interventions such as balustrades and fire screens which have concealed the original qualities of the building.