NBBJ has designed several other academic research buildings, including Cambridge University's Materials Science & Metallurgy Building, pictured

Design team announced for £235m Sir Henry Royce Institute

The University of Manchester has selected NBBJ Architects, Arcadis, Arup and Ramboll to deliver the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials on its Oxford Road campus.

The national institute was first announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the 2014 Autumn Statement. The institute will have its research centre in Manchester, and will be supported by satellite centres or ‘spokes’ at the founding partners, comprising the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.

A plot off Booth Street, between the Alan Turing Building on Upper Brook Street and the Aquatic Centre on Oxford Road will be the location for the Institute.

The new facility will be one of three in Manchester focused on research into the practical implications of graphene. The £61m National Graphene Institute opened in 2015, while planning permission is expected to be granted later this week to the £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the university’s North campus.

The building will provide facilities to support research into four areas; energy, engineering, functional and soft materials.

Completion is expected in mid-2019. The total funding from the government is £235m.

Arcadis is project manager and cost manager, Ramboll the civil and structural engineer and Arup the building services engineer.

Mel Manku, partner at Arcadis, said: “We are thrilled to be appointed on the Sir Henry Royce Institute, building on our strong relationship with The University of Manchester following the successful delivery of the National Graphene Institute and development of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre; and recognising our established position in the higher education, science and research sector. We understand the importance of this nationally significant project and we are privileged to be able to influence the benefits this scheme will bring to Manchester and the UK.”

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The University of Manchester are a dreadful client in terms of striving for high standards in architectural design, urban design, heritage preservation and master planning.

It’s like they don’t understand their civic role nor how their campus investments impact directly and profoundly upon the student experience, the wellbeing of the wider city and its people.

Look at the dismal standards of University Place or the Humanities building, the sheer wall of buildings along Upper Brook Street and their cacophony of cladding panels, the unanimated open spaces, the prospect of the enormous GEIC being dropped into a spare bit of land rather than being properly masterplanned and integrated into the cityscape, the lack of any strategy for the old North Canpus, nor any interest in its heritage, the singular lack of any compelling overarching architectural vision for the new campus.

It’s like no one in the estates department has any affinity for the city, nor any aspirations for their projects beyond getting them delivered with the minimum of effort.

Suffice to say, my expectations for the Royce Institute are low.

By abc

“It’s like no one in the estates department has any affinity for the city”.

True of so much going on in the wider city?

By syntax

Quite! All the more odd ‘abc’ old fruit, that the UoM is part of the M/cr School of Architecture ( which includes Landscape Architecture & Urban Design) and used to ( still does???) run it’s own independent Planning & Landscape course! The Cobbler’s children are the worst shod indeed.

By Cassandra

For that money we want something of international standing.Not the usual prosaic provincial lack of ambition stuff we normally get.

By Elephant

Its been designed by committee with the QS having the final say. Lunacy!

This does seem to follow the Cities approach of sacrificing their civic duty as custodians of the city to be able to say we build tens of million sq ft of development. First Street and Home is a great example of this.

By NQ2

I cannot think of a single building built in the last 10 years in the city that will not warrant being demolishing in 20 years. This particularly includes those that the City had control over. Exception maybe being No 1 St Peters Square.

By Arkitec

I too like Number one St Peters.I don’t dislike Urbis either but in true Manchester lack of style a great building stuck on the edge of a bus route rather than at the centre of a great open space.We simply cannot do parks in this city.Graphene is another example of an important building stuck down a side street with all the class of a Gorton ginnel.

By Elephant

The money will be spent on the facilities within the building. It doesn’t matter what it looks like from the outside.

By Yarrum

Of course it matters what the building looks like.

By syntax

It is very important that this building is iconic.The Toast rack could have been adapted for this.It is near enough the University and the student Ghetto.

By Elephant

I meant the MECD building was being dropped into a piece of left over land rather than the GEIC of course, although the same lack of planning and low aspirations applies to that too.

By abc

The scientists behind the Graphene discovery were critical that too much money was spent on the Graphene Institute building and not enough on the science.

By Yorkie

It’s not just about budget but thinking holistically about the sort of campus environment you want to create. That’s difficult though and takes vision and long term planning, all stuff the university’s management and capital projects team can’t really be bothered with.

By abc