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University of York Student Centre reaches planning milestone

Posted on 16 March 2023

Designs for a new Student Centre at the University of York have been submitted for planning permission.

The building will be built largely from natural materials and renewable sources Pic credit: ADP and O’Donnell + Tuomey.

Co-designed by leading architectural firms ADP Architecture and O’Donnell + Tuomey, the new building is intended to offer an iconic new arrival point on Campus West.

Designed for student use

The £35m building will be designed to the latest environmental, health and sustainability standards and will offer a variety of spaces, specifically designed for student use.

These will include events and flat floor spaces, collaborative study areas, studios for student radio and TV, as well as a new home for both the university’s student unions and frontline student support services. There will also be places to eat and drink and a rooftop garden.

It will be surrounded by landscaped gardens offering students spaces to sit and relax away from their studies. 

Spring 2024

It is hoped that, following the planning permission process, building work will begin in the spring of 2024, with students able to access, and use, the new facilities in the academic year 2025/26.

The building will be built largely from natural materials and renewable sources, including reconstituted stone with plans for solar panels, rooflights and solar controlled glazing. The centre will also reach high sustainability standards including 'net zero carbon' accredited by the UK Green Building Council.

Planning approval has already been granted for the demolition of some existing vacant buildings to make way for the new centre and this work will start later in the spring. 

Listening to our students

Professor Tracy Lightfoot, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students, at the University of York, said: “This is an important milestone in this project. In the last year we have spent a lot of time engaging and listening to our students to ensure that the plans truly reflect what they want, and need, from a building like this.

“The spaces have been adapted to fit their feedback and we will continue to do this throughout the rest of the process. Our iconic new Student Centre promises to be a fantastic asset to our students, the University and the local community."

Helen O’Curry, Director at ADP Architecture, said: “We are very proud to be working alongside the University of York and partnering with O’Donnell + Toumey to design and deliver this exciting project.

“The Student Centre is a key strategic intervention into the wonderful York campus landscape. Located between iconic structures on the campus, the centre creates a visible and welcoming gateway to the university, providing significant public realm and dedicated student facilities.

“The project has been a joy, with the whole design team working hard to deliver high aspirations for the University."

Multifunctional spaces

John Tuomey, of O’Donnell and Tuomey, the design-lead architects, said: “The University of York Student Centre will be a singular structure, a flexible plan with interconnecting multifunctional spaces, with a south facing winter garden and a walled orchard garden on the roof.

"The architectural form, embodying principles of environmental responsibility, responds to the visual patterns of York Minster and is consistent with material characteristics of the University campus.”

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