MMU SODA October 2018 1

Kier secures deal for £18m MMU digital school

Charlie Schouten

Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Digital Arts is on course to open in June 2021 with Kier on board as main contractor.

Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the 61,000 sq ft digital school at the All Saints Campus secured planning permission in December last year and features a striking digital screen and façade. Place North West understands Kier has been picked by MMU to build the scheme with construction due to start in the coming months.

Located on the site of the Students’ Union car park on Higher Chatham Street, the five-storey building is set to house teaching space for subjects including film, animation, UX design, photography, games design, and artificial intelligence.

There are proposals for a pedestrianised street between the Benzie Building and the new facility, while the pedestrianisation of Higher Chatham Street is aimed to integrate the site with the wider MMU campus.

Supported by a grant from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, SODA has a total expected cost of around £35m. The building will house around 1,000 students a year and is estimated to generate around £13m annually for the local area.

The professional team also features Turner & Townsend, Buro Happold, and planner Barton Willmore.

Along with SODA, MMU also picked Kier to deliver 491 student apartments on the final plot of its Birley Fields masterplan with work set to get under way in the spring. Place North West revealed Kier had been chosen to build the blocks, which range between 16 and six storeys, in October last year. Kier will complete a two-year build programme in 2021.

MMU is also looking to select a construction partner to deliver new build and potential refurbishment works at the proposed science and engineering campus on the site of the John Dalton Buildings.

The university set out proposals to demolish the 168,000 sq ft John Dalton buildings and replace them with a new build science and engineering campus last year; the project value outlined in the procurement documents is £45m.

MMU hopes for a start on site no later than April 2021 with the new facility being operational by March 2023.

Kier and MMU were contacted for comment.

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