University of York: Design of new University student centre unveiled

ADP and O’Donnell + Tuomey have been selected as the architects for the new building, which will be located on Campus West close to the library.

Building work is expected to begin in September 2023, with students able to access and use some of the new facilities in the academic year 2024.

The innovative design will feature an atrium that leads into a large open area with office space for student unions and student services, dining areas, a variety of exhibition spaces, study areas and a rooftop garden. The building will also include digital teaching walls with augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York said: “This building is a once in a generation opportunity for us to enhance our existing student experience with an iconic, technologically smart, student focused space for all of our students, wherever they are.

“Our architects have delivered stunning buildings for other organisations and have designed us a building that will not only look striking and signal to visitors that they have arrived on our campus, but will also offer our students a dedicated space to relax on campus.

“Some of our students and staff have already been involved in the design process and we intend talking with many more of them over the coming months to ensure this really is a building for students, designed with students.”

Natural materials
The building will be built largely from natural materials and renewable sources, including reconstituted stone and recycled steel, with plans for solar panels, rooflights and solar controlled glazing.

Patrick O’Donnell, President of York Students’ Union (YUSU), said: “We know that down time is really important to students and we hope this building will deliver spaces that offer us many more opportunities to enhance students’ time on campus.

“The winning designs are really innovative and although the internal spaces haven’t been agreed yet, the potential for a nightclub, informal study spaces and flexible spaces for clubs and societies is really exciting.”

New landscaping
The centre will be surrounded by new landscaping and the area will be opened up to provide a new focal point of the campus.

Viviane Yuxin Cao, President of the University’s Graduate Students Association, added: “A purpose-built student building where we can all work together for the benefit of all of our students will be a fantastic addition to our already vibrant campus. GSA have been actively involved since the start as part of the project board and we are keen that our students get involved too.”

The successful architects hae experience in designing for higher education and have been responsible for student centres at the LSE and University College Cork, Sussex,and university buildings in Budapest, Dublin, Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool and Edinburgh, as well as a variety of buildings across the UK and the world, including the V&A East Museum, London, Lyric Theatre Belfast, China and the Regional Institute of Allied Health Sciences, India.

Welcoming place
Jon Roylance, Higher Education Director, ADP said: “The new centre and surrounding landscape will be a welcoming and supportive place for students, staff, and visitors, reflecting the University’s values, and celebrating its unique character.”

John Tuomey of O’Donnell + Tuomey, the design-lead architects said: “It will be a singular structure, a flexible plan with interconnecting multifunctional spaces, a south-facing winter garden and a walled orchard garden on the roof. The architectural form, employing modern methods of construction and principles of environmental responsibility, responds to the material characteristics of the place.”