The former sorting office viewed from the Redmonds Building Image by Gareth Jones

SITE VISIT | Liverpool John Moores University’s £100m Copperas Hill

Work is progressing at pace to strip back the former Royal Mail sorting office to its concrete and steel core, to make way for a £100m facility designed by BDP.

See gallery for photos of construction activity + floor plans

LJMU bought the 280,000 sq ft building and its surrounding three-acre site in 2011, and under plans approved by Liverpool City Council earlier this year is expanding the already vast 1970s block into a 355,000 sq ft multi-use student facility.

When complete in time for the 2018 academic year, the conversion will fit in a wide range of university functions, including the University’s three libraries, teaching areas, sports facilities, its World of Work Careers Centre, Student Advice & Wellbeing, Student Administration, and Teaching & Learning Academy.

Sue Emms, lead architect for the project at BDP

Sue Emms, lead architect for the project at BDP

“It’s currently an introverted building, and we want it to be outward facing, to turn it from an inward machine into a transparent space, activated by people and activity,” said Sue Emms, lead architect on the project for BDP.

Central to this ethos will be the creation of an internal street lined with retail units, cutting across the previously impenetrable block, making it accessible from both Copperas Hill and Brownlow Hill.

Main contractor Lendlease is on site emptying the sorting office of equipment and furniture abandoned when Royal Mail vacated, and has begun stripping the block back entirely to its frame, including removing the façade and roof.

BDP’s design stretches usable space within the building by 75,000 sq ft, incorporating two mezzanine floors, and using the roof for football pitches, basketball courts and a bistro. Classrooms and administrative spaces will be installed around the steel frame, retaining the core structure as an aesthetic feature internally.

That structure is being pushed to its limits to incorporate the wide variety of uses, according to Emms. As the design had to fit in the many building operations, this has led to some “illogical adjacencies internally”, Emms said, with acousticians working hard to prevent sound travelling from the sports facilities to the library set to be installed above.

EC Harris is project manager, Sweett Group consultant and employer agent, Curtins civil and structural engineer, Arup building services engineer.

Click any image below to launch gallery

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This will be a really impressive building when complete and revitalise an otherwise desolate area.
Good news for the city centre.

By Man on bicycle

Well done all. Great re-use of the building and site, and really positive in urban design terms.

By Gene Walker

Such an exciting development – it will be transformational for the Knowledge Quarter. Bring it on! Well done LJMU!

By Liverpool Girl

does Cristal exist any more isn’t it ARcadius

By Mary Smiley