Multi-million revamp planned of ‘pioneering’ building

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A PIONEERING university building, which broke new ground when it was unveiled almost 50 years ago, will become the pride of the campus once again when it undergoes a £20m refurbishment, starting this summer.

University House in Sheffield was one of the first buildings in the world to feature “glass curtain walling” when it was completed in 1963.

The building, which houses part of Sheffield University’s students’ union, is now set to be transformed into a centre provising student services and study spaces. There will also be an “ampitheatre-style” space.

Robert Smith, a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, spent 12 years at the university designing 11 buildings – including the Arts Tower and University House – while working for architecture firm Gollins, Melvin and Ward.

He said: “University House was designed to be a bit like the Arts Tower. It was a groundbreaking design. We were pioneers in glass curtain walling and this was one of the very first.

“It was a very fresh building design and very simple. It offered some of the best views of Sheffield, and still does now.

“It was designed to be unrestricted and benefited from not needing offices or room dividers so it was much more open than the other university buildings. We wanted to get as much light in as possible.”

University House was one of the key buildings in the masterplan of Gollins, Melvin and Ward in 1953, and was the pride of the university when it was completed some 10 years later.

Mr Smith added: “I’m very happy to think the building will continue to be used into the future as it’s a special building.”

The new-look University House will be designed to complement the £5m revamp of the students’ union, carried out in 2010.

Building work is expected to start in July this year and finish in September 2013.