The contractor is set to be picked for First Light, a £21m scheme including a visitors’ centre, exhibition space and auditorium at the observatory near Congleton.
Jodrell Bank’s proposals on the site of the Granada Arboretum at its observatory are designed to promote scientific work and chronicle the history of the site.
Designed by architect Hassell, the professional team on the project also includes Buro Four, Planit IE, Mott MacDonald, Turley, and WYG. Kier has been picked on a pre-contract service agreement for the scheme, and if confirmed, will look to start the project later this year, and it is expected to complete by spring 2021.
The circular building will host a gallery, exhibition and education spaces, a cafe, and a 2,300 sq ft auditorium with space for 150 guests. The site near Congleton currently welcomes around 150,000 visitors per year, and it is hoped First Light and improved facilities will help to boost these numbers significantly.
The £20.5m project was granted £4m by the Government, subject to a sustainable business case, last month as part of the Transforming Cities Fund.
It also received a £12m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, alongside private donations from four foundations and the University of Manchester Alumni Association; the scheme secured planning permission in December 2017.
Diana Hampson, director of estates at the University, said: “The First Light Pavilion project will conserve and restore the heritage of Jodrell Bank. It will create a spectacular new interpretation space in which visitors can engage with and learn about the site’s fantastic stories, amazing feats of post-war engineering, and the creation of the grade one-listed Lovell Telescope”.