MECD Exterior 2 New May 2021
The development is located off Oxford Road in the city centre

Manchester Uni’s £400m MECD completes

Sarah Townsend

Main contractor Balfour Beatty has completed the base build of the much-anticipated engineering campus, touted as the largest single construction project undertaken by a UK higher education institution.

The £400m Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) was handed over to the University of Manchester at the end of last week and is designed to house a community of 8,000 students, researchers, academics and professional services staff.

MECD Exterior New May 2021

The campus features laboratories, teaching and other spaces

The development incorporates a cluster of new and existing buildings: the eight-storey 860,000 sq ft Engineering Building A; Engineering Building B and the James Chadwick Building on Upper Brook Street; the refurbished grade two-listed Oddfellows Hall, which completed last October, and the York Street Building.

It features purpose-designed blended lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, student workshops and a range of spaces for outreach and social engagement initiatives. The MECD was designed by architects at Mecanoo with support from studio Penoyre & Prasad, while BDP led detailed design during the technical and construction stages and multidisciplinary firm Arup provided engineering services.

The project was managed by Buro Four, and Buro Happold was the environmental sustainability advisor, which helped achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating for the scheme as well as an active travel hub and green roof.

“This is a hugely significant milestone for MECD that the initial construction phase is now complete,” said Diana Hampson, director of estates at The University of Manchester.

“MECD will create facilities that will put the university at the forefront of engineering globally, and we are proud to provide such an exceptional space for our exceptional people. We’d like to thank the various partners and stakeholders in getting us this point – it it really has been a collaborative effort.”

The campus is part of the university’s research and innovation hub and sits immediately adjacent to two flagship centres of excellence – the National Graphene Institute and the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research and innovation, off Oxford Road in Manchester city centre.

MECD “is a key part of Manchester’s new urbanism, physically extending the city centre into its academic axis, and combining epic scale with connectivity, heritage and new public space for everyone”, noted Francine Houben, creative director and founding partner of Mecanoo.

“We’re extremely pleased to have reached this critical milestone on such an important project – one that will transform the way in which the University of Manchester educates our future workforce of engineers,” added Mark Pearson, project director at Balfour Beatty.

MECD Interior New May 2021

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All that teaching, research and recreation space that the glorious UMIST campus provided crammed into a single, rather austere building wedged between two arterial roads. Aside from modernised facilities I can’t see how this represents anything but a downgrade.

By Grad

An amazing feat, congratulations to all involved in this stunning project.

By Johnyrog

The facilities and space here are incredible compared to the tired and run down old Umist campus, no point in being stuck in the past. Great achievement, well done to all concerned.

By Tufts

An amazing project with 4 different buildings of various design and uses. What a brilliant showcase for the city and and inspiration for generations of future engineers. Excited to see the demolition of the brutalist UMIST buildings and the development of that area once HS2 arrives.

By New Wave

I would love to know the number of people who have been involved in this scheme from the outset, i was involved throughout the briefing stage 7/8 years ago and it is fantastic to see the scheme developed with Mecanoo in Delft finally delivered, well done to all involved not just those that are there at the end.

By There at the start

Great project, with a great team and client, delivering amazing and fantastic spaces for the future research.. those stuck in the past harping on about downgrades and history need to give their head a wee wobble!! Well done to all involved!

By Muller

This will attract a lot of new talent to the City in years to come.who may have gone elsewhere.The trick is to keep them when qualified either carrying out research or working for engineering concerns in the local area.

By Peter Chapman

Can’t wait to visit and see it come to live. Best wishes to all who will work, teach and be be taught here!

By Otto

World class facilities now as Manchester continues to develop as one of Europe’s premier University cities. Excellent news.

By Squirrels nuts

MMU…University or Estate Agent? Seems properation & land are its main focus nowadays…

By Yvonne McCalla

@SquirrelNuts I’m sure the University’s Estates department think it’s fantastic as they can make a huge return out of selling off the UMIST campus whilst spending the minimum on the replacement facility.

Some of the common areas look decidedly mean and cheaply finished and no one will convince me that this scrap of back land was the optimum location for a flagship department. Manchester was built on engineering but nothing about this build speaks of the significance of its use. It looks like it’s been conceived and designed by accountants from the ground up. Bitterly disappointing.

By Grad