Balfour Beatty wins the job to build a controversial RMJM-designed engineering building at Sheffield University
The 19,500 sq m New Engineering Building, designed by RMJM Architects and involving consulting engineer Arup and project manager and cost consultant Turner & Townsend, has proved highly controversial because it involves demolishing the Grade II-listed Edwardian extension to the former Jessop Hospital.
But communities secretary Eric Pickles declined to call in the planning application in March. Heritage campaigners called Pickle’s decision an “absolute disgrace”.
Now Balfour Beatty has been appointed as main contractor on the project, beating rivals Interserve, Bowmer & Kirkland, Bam Construct, Miller and Sir Robert McAlpine.
On its website, RMJM described the project as a “purpose built teaching and integrated learning facility that provides a high quality student experience across a range of engineering disciplines”.
The firm said: “The principal driver for the external appearance is to create an identity that reflects the world-class quality of The Faculty of Engineering, whilst also creating a contextual response to the surrounding heritage and contemporary buildings.
“The facade concept references the repeated detailing of the listed Gothic and Victorian brick and stone facades and also ‘cellular automaton’ which is a discrete model studied in the field of engineering and used by the University to describe how the microstructure of steel changes during processing .”
Sheffield University’s director of estates and facilities management Keith Lilley said: “The new engineering building is a critical development for the university, forming the centrepiece of our development plans over the next decade.
“We were extremely pleased with the tenders from all those on the shortlist, but Balfour Beatty’s tender stood out in terms of the quality of their approach and their experience in successfully delivering high quality developments of this kind of size and significance.”