WDL's £1m contract to overhaul legendary students' union venue

A YORKSHIRE architecture practice has won a £1m contract and started work on transforming one of the region's largest and best-known students' unions.

The revamp of Leeds University Union (LUU), which was the venue for legendary gigs by The Who and Pink Floyd, will be devised by WDL Commercial Interior Architects.

The firm, which is based in Pudsey, Leeds, and has six staff, won the contract after coming out on top in a design competition.

It has a three-year contract to produce plans for its shops, student support and advice centres, an enterprise hub and a terrace bar and is working with main contractor Peels, a shopfitter which is based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Work began in the spring with the first phase completed when the 30,000 students began returning to the university after the summer break in September.

Mike Watson, managing director at WDL, which was set up in 1984, said: "The initial works to the Terrace Bar and reception area were due to take four months from design to completion.

"There was never any question of not finishing on time, with students heading back in early-mid September the union had to be ready.

"I called back to see the Leeds University venue as it's meant to be used, filled with students studying and enjoying their time.

"It's a great feeling knowing that one of WDL's designs is being appreciated by our future architects, designers, builders and structural engineers along with other students at Leeds Students Union."

WDL said the contract is part of a longer-term relationship with the students' union.

Work is being carried out on areas which are at the heart of the university and which receive up to 100,000 visits each week.

Jackie Berry, deputy chief executive of Leeds University Union, said: "WDL challenged us to rethink some of our operational needs and as a result we have a design which more than exceeds our expectations."

Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, was once president of the union.