Colourful light display to celebrate £36 million refurbishment of the Arts Tower

The University of Sheffield's Arts Tower will light up the Sheffield skyline this week (27 Feb – 2 March 2012) with an illuminating display of colour to celebrate its £36 million refurbishment.

The top four floors of the Arts Tower - the UK's tallest university structure - will be bathed in colour each night for a week from Monday 27 February 2012, making the Grade 2 listed building a shining light across the city.

The extensive refurbishment has taken three years to complete, with the University investing £36 million to update and develop the building to meet current demands while preserving its historic importance.

The work on the Arts Tower was the largest single investment of the £50 million total that the University has spent in the last three years to preserve and develop its historic estate.

A special ceremony by invitation only to celebrate the completion of the work will take place on Monday 27 February 2012, from 3.30pm until 5pm, including tours of the building and the light switch-on. The event will be attended by University of Sheffield alumnus and former staff member the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Dr Sylvia Dunkley.

Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the University of Sheffield, said: "The Arts Tower is a hugely significant building but it required major investment to make it fit for today's requirements. We're delighted with the work that has been done to bring it up to date whist preserving its unique characteristics.

"The lower levels provide extensive teaching accommodation and the Department of Landscape and School of Architecture are now rehoused in the top 10 floors. The natural light and the vistas across the city provide a fantastic setting for the Landscape and Architecture Schools, which are among the top performing schools in the UK."

He added: "It's great that so many people from throughout the city are able to join us on Monday to mark this important occasion and to see for themselves the quality of the work that has been undertaken to preserve a city landmark and to make the Arts Tower fit for the needs of a 21st century university."

Work has included the replacement of the façade in accordance with the strict requirements of English Heritage, concrete repairs and the removal of the internal partitions.

Standing more than 250ft tall, the Arts Tower was designed following a competition launched in 1959. The building was completed in 1965 before being officially opened in June 1966 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The winning design was from Sheffield based architect, Robert Smith of Gollins Melvin and Ward Architects, who is now aged 89. It was originally built to accommodate about 160 staff and 1,000 students and has the tallest surviving paternoster lift in the UK, with 38 passenger cars.

Following completion of the refurbishment, the Arts Tower was commended in the buildings category at the Structural Engineering Excellence Awards 2011 and shortlisted in the IstructE Structural Awards 2011; Heritage Award for Building or Infrastructure.

Notes for Editors: With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University's research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

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