Scheme involves replacing 1970s block

Laing O’Rourke has joined the race to build what Oxford university has dubbed its largest ever building project.

The country’s biggest private contractor is up against Wates and Bam for the deal which is being procured under the university’s capital projects partner framework.

The three were appointed to the £1.5bn framework last year but O’Rourke was only listed as a reserve for the highest value lot – which covers projects worth more than £20m. Morgan Sindall was the third firm to be appointed to that lot.

Tinbergen Building bigger

The university has not yet disclosed how much the job is worth but confirmed the job is being procured under the framework’s highest value work band.

Work will involve building the university’s new Life and Mind Building, which will replace the soon-to-be demolished Tinbergen building (pictured).

The NBBJ-designed facility will be home to the Department of Experimental Psychology and a new Department of Biology, which combines the existing departments of plant sciences and zoology.

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In 2016, ISG was appointed to build and fit out a new three-storey extension of this building for the university’s Chemistry school. This will be reworked into the new scheme.

Oxford city council approved the university’s planning application for the demolition of the Tinbergen building along with the enabling works to adjacent and adjoining buildings to allow redevelopment of the site in June last year.

Erith was appointed to carry out asbestos removal works back in 2018. Super-structure demolition is due to get underway shortly.

The full planning application is set to be submitted by the middle of the year with the new facility planned to open in 2024.

The building, which was never listed, opened in 1971 and was designed by celebrated architect Sir Leslie Martin, the architect behind the grade I-listed Royal Festival Hall.

It is named after Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen. He taught at Oxford from the late 1940s and was co-awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1973 for work on social behaviour patterns.