This feasibility study for the central area of the University of Leicester central campus followed the 2002 Development Plan which we prepared for all of the University’s sites.
One of the primary objectives of the plan was to enable a new car-free, memorable public square at the heart of the University, onto which welcoming central facilities such as the library, shops and cafes would face, and which would provide an appropriate setting for two listed buildings - the Engineering Building by Stirling and Gowan (1963) and the Fielding Johnson Building (1837), both listed Grade II. Another objective when this study was commissioned was to determine the best site for improved facilities for the Students Union, their existing building (the Percy Gee) being considered inflexible and inefficient.
In this scheme the club - a large internal space used only in evenings during term time - and similar spaces could be used more extensively if linked to other resources. The proposal combined central amenities - the union, arts centre, performance spaces, and the refectory – within one new facility, and created an appropriate main outdoor space which takes advantage of site levels and the University’s unique relationship with the adjacent Victoria Park. It also allowed connections to the adjacent Attenborough Tower, which could in future be converted from academic to residential use, thus offering suited facilities for conference use.
Following this study we prepared options for the reuse through alteration and refurbishment of the Percy Gee building which proved that it could, if appropriately transformed, make an excellent Students Union. That project is now complete (see here) and won the 'Best Higher Education Building 2011' and other awards. We also went on to prepare the 2008 Development Framework Plan, which further developed ideas for the central space.