Multi-million pound refurbishment to bring pioneering building into the 21st century

A pioneering building which broke new ground when it was unveiled almost 50 years ago will become the pride of the University campus once again when it undergoes a refurbishment costing over £20 million, which will begin this summer.

Artist's impressions of what University House will look like

University House, which was one of the first glass curtain walled buildings in the world when it was completed in 1963, will be transformed into a new world class facility for students, staff and the community at the heart of the campus, as well as being integrated with the University’s award-winning Students' Union – the number one in the UK - in one single building.

The newly refurbished and redesigned building will provide state of the art facilities for student services, an amphitheatre styled space for special events will be created within the new Octagon Plaza, as well as more social and study spaces open for longer hours.

The 21st century makeover, which has been designed by Sheffield based HLM architects, will continue the University’s commitment to offering the best facilities, with six new meeting rooms and improvements to the City View Cafe and Fusion and Foundry. The landscaping continues with significant improvements to pedestrian access and the planting of trees and shrubs as natural screens, adjacent to Western Bank.Artists' impressions of what University House will look like

Robert Smith, a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, spent 12 years at the University from the late 1950s designing 11 buildings – including the Arts Tower and University House – while working for architecture firm Gollins, Melvin and Ward.

Mr Smith said: “University House was designed to be a bit like the Arts Tower - it was a groundbreaking design. We were pioneers in glass curtain walling and this was one of the very first.

“It was a very fresh building design and very simple. It offered some of the best views of Sheffield, and still does now. It was designed to be unrestricted and benefited from not needing offices or room dividers so it was much more open than the other University buildings. We wanted to get as much light in as possible.”

University House was one of the key buildings in the master plan of Gollins, Melvin and Ward of 1953, and was the pride of the University when it was completed ten years later. It has been added to several times and only the Glossop Road side of the building shows how it would have looked originally.

Mr Smith added: “I’m very happy to think the building will continue to be used into the future as it’s a special building.”

The essential work will bring the building up-to-date with modern efficiency standards, and will radically reduce annual energy consumption and the building’s carbon footprint.

The new facility will be designed to complement the £5 million revamp which was carried out on the award-winning Students’ Union in 2010 and will help create a strong sense of community and belonging at the heart of the campus.

Building facts:

  • More than £20 million refurbishment
  • Improvements to the City View Cafe and Fusion and Foundry
  • New meeting rooms
  • Radically reduce energy consumption

The new, integrated building will meet the needs of everyone on campus, with the whole complex being renamed the Students' Union Building.

Thom Arnold, President of the University of Sheffield's Students' Union, said: “We're really pleased to be working in partnership with the University to develop this visionary facility. Providing an outstanding student experience is something the University and the Students' Union are fundamentally committed to and this project promises to further this experience by delivering improved services and facilities to students at the heart of the University campus.”

The University is committed to ensuring that any disruption is kept to a minimum during refurbishment work, which is expected to start on July 23 2012 and finish in September 2013.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
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, and 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.


For further information please contact:

Paul Mannion
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9851