Site visit: LJMU Brownlow Hill

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Wates Construction is around halfway through the 107-week construction programme for the new teaching facility on Mount Pleasant for Liverpool John Moores University.

The new building will provide new teaching facilities for around 6,000 students from LJMU's Faculty of Business and Law and the Faculty of Media Arts and Social Science. It will also house the Liverpool Screen School, currently located on Edge Lane within the Liverpool Innovation Park, and the new University Professional Centre. The Professional Centre will provide dedicated facilities for professional clients enrolled on LJMU's professional education and postgraduate programmes.

See gallery below

The 124,000 sq ft building will sit below the £24m, 118,000 sq ft Arts & Design Academy also built by Wates and completed in December 2008.

The six-storey L-shaped building on the corner of Brownlow Hill and Clarence Street within LJMU's Mount Pleasant campus is being constructed one wing at a time. The 850-tonne steel frame has already topped out, with stunning views over the city and Mersey from the upper floors. The mechanical and electrical first fit-out has started three months early in the first wing.

Wates set itself a target of hiring ten apprentices on the project and has already hit that target. The firm is also working to a target of 80% local labour and is partnering with the Centre for Construction Innovation North West and the People Pool Construction Team at Liverpool City Council to help long-term unemployed people and ex-offenders into placements and employment with Wates and sub-contractors. Continuing the social agenda, Wates has completed one round of Building Futures – the industry programme aimed at getting local people into employment in the built environment – and is running a second round in May with a target of finding employment for 17 people.

Sub-contractors have co-located with Wates in the main site office to improve communication and save money on shared resources.

The hill-side position of the site meant Wates had to use rock anchors of between five and 12 metres depth to hold it down. The building is designed to achieve a BREEAM environmental rating of 'very good'.

The project at a glance

  • 124,000 sq ft, six storey building
  • Started in May 2010 and completion due in spring 2012
  • Contract value – £19.5m
  • 107 weeks
  • 10% time buffer in build programme
  • Wates won after a two-stage bid process against four other shortlisted firm
  • Architects: ADP Architects
  • Steelwork, metal decking and precast stairs: Billington Structures
  • Groundworkers: GRKC
  • Mechanical and electrical: SPIE Matthew Hall
  • Envelope package: McVeigh Insulations
  • Curtain Walling: Fortress Architectural Systems

Wates project team

  • Wesley Allmark – Project Director
  • Peter Backhouse – Commercial Lead
  • Tony Foster – Project Manager
  • Graham Murphy – Site Manager
  • John Parry – Site Manager
  • Robert Marshal – Section Manager
  • Michael Berrigan – Project QS
  • John Burns – Project QS
  • Mark Cowen – Quantity Surveyor

Click image to launch gallery

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The building is an absolute disgrace – an insult to the university and to Liverpool itself…! But then, what else is new? – practically everything Liverpool has done to itself over the last forty years has been a disaster, not only resulting in half – HALF…!! – the city’s population fleeing from it during that time but everyone in its Wirral suburbs distancing themselves from the city by junking all their former "L" post-code associations…!!! Frankly, I think Henry Moore would turn in his grave if he’d ever so much as caught a glimpse of that ugly grey public urinal they appear to have erected in his name…!!!

By John Jay

‘practically everything Liverpool has done to itself over the last forty years has been a disaster, not only resulting in half – HALF…!! – the city’s population fleeing from it during that time but everyone in its Wirral suburbs distancing themselves from the city by junking all their former "L" post-code associations…!!!’ Whoa, ‘calm down’ there mate. Everything the city’s done to itself for last 40 years? Well, yeah, it did some stupid things but a lot of it was about global shifts the city could do little about. As for the Wirral postcode, had nothing to do with ‘association’, the Royal Mail shifted Wirral mail sorting to Chester, so the post code changed, nothing more dull than that. Also, where does Henry Moore come into it?!?


Yeah, I too think John Jay should wind his neck in there. Nothing but snobbery over on the Wirral, with that postcode lark. When it suits you, like when you’e abroad and someone randomly says ‘Oh, I’m such a Beatles fan!" you suddenly go all coy, tell the person that you live ‘Oh,just a stones throw away from their home city yer know’ and decide you’re part of Liverpool. And when it doesn’t, like when people are rioting in Toxteth for example, you do eveyrthing you can to relinquish all connection with us. P****s me off no end, the way you people do that. And half of you ARE Irish descended Scousers anyway, just like us, who happen to have ancestors who recently moved over there. The way I see it; when Wirral, and it’s people, has achieved as much, as an area, as Liverpool has over the years, THEN let it complain! As it happens, the only reason the world knows the place even sodding well exists is because it’s so close to Liverpool. Compared to Liverpool, just tell me – what has Wirral EVER really done mate, when it comes to the world stage?! Do people come to Merseyside to visit Wirral, or to visit Liverpool? Do the majority of outside students come to Merseyside, to study in Wirral, or to study in Liverpool? They may pay Wirral a nodding visit, because it’s Liverpool’s scenic little neighbour, but they don’t come here primarily for you. When Wirral has three world class universities of its own, scratch that – even ONE world class university of its own, like JMU is – then it has the right to complain about the buildings/architecture. Until then – SOD OFF!

By LiloLil