University unveils proposals for 400-seat auditorium

The University of Liverpool has revealed plans to build a £21m arts & humanities centre featuring teaching facilities and a 400-seat auditorium, designed by Ellis Williams Architects.

Currently at pre-application stage, the scheme also includes three lecture theatres with the capacity to teach 1,000 students, alongside seminar facilities, informal study spaces, a new cafeteria, and an outdoor seating area.

The development is expected to cost around £20.5m; £17.5m of this will come directly from the university, with a further £3m coming from private donations. Around half of this has already been provided.

The University’s vision is to create a space that will “sit alongside the UK’s leading concert venues” as well as complementing the city’s existing venues including the Philharmonic Hall.

A planning application is expected in the spring and the scheme will be delivered by the University of Liverpool’s in-house construction team. The university said it hoped to have “spades in the ground” later this year.

The project has been secured by Ellis Williams following its expansion in Liverpool; the practice’s office in the city is now headed up by Louise Sheridan, supported by associates Mushtaq Saleri and Mark Anstey.

Other projects the practice has delivered in the North West include Chester’s Storyhouse Theatre.

“Fifty years after Ellis Williams was founded on Rodney Street, it’s great to see the diversity of our Liverpool portfolio growing strongly once more,” said Sheridan. “As graduates of the University of Liverpool, our team are delighted to be working collaboratively on the new Centre of Arts and Humanities providing students with the highest quality facilities.”

Professor Catherine Tackley, head of the university’s department of music, said: “It’s important that we continue to facilitate and resource opportunities for our students to perform – whether they are studying music or not – in orchestras alongside their colleagues, and that means giving them somewhere perfectly suited to that.

“But it goes beyond performance. Our weekly lunchtime concert series already enables students to experience every element of organising live performances, from artist liaison and administration, to programming and technical aspects. The Arts and Humanities Centre will take this experience to an entirely new level, with students managing multiple performances each week.

“The facility will also give students interested in pursuing careers in sound recording and live broadcasting professional, real-world experience.”

Along with Ellis Williams, the professional team also includes landscape architect BCAL; acoustic engineer Arup; Booth King on structural design; Todd & Ledson as cost consultant; Omega as fire engineer; and Futureserv on M&E design.

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Where is the building located ?

By Graham Burgess

It’s at the top of Oxford Street, corner of Grove Street, beyond Abercrombie Square. A great spot reinforcing the University’s prominence as you enter Liverpool at the top end. It’s also across the road from the new Paddington Village. And if they put the new rail link in for Paddington Village and KQ it will be few minutes walk from here.

By Roscoe

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