Construction News , Leeds 11 May 2021

Downing completes work on £80m School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University

By Sophie Anderson

Downing has completed works on a new £80 million School of Arts building for Leeds Beckett University.

The new state-of-the-art building will provide an inspiring contemporary environment for over 2500 students and 100 staff studying, teaching and researching a wide range of subjects within the creative arts field.

The 11-storey, environmentally friendly facility was designed by award-winning architects Hawkins\Brown and houses a 184-seat performance theatre, a 220-seat movie cinema, dedicated TV, film and black box studios as well as green screen and stop motion studios.

The exterior complements existing listed Portland Stone buildings in the Civic Quarter while providing modern open-plan learning spaces and two cool roof terraces which will showcase everything from end-of-year shows to departmental performances.

Downing started planning the development with the university in 2015. George Downing Construction Limited started work on site late 2017 and managed to complete it on schedule despite facing challenges due to the pandemic.

George Tyson, projects director for Downing Group, said: “We have worked closely with Leeds Beckett and our design and supply chain partners throughout, to deliver a project we can all be proud of. Working with Covid-19 restrictions has presented a unique challenge that the wider team, and the GDC site team in particular, have responded to and overcome.

“The volume and variety of spaces brought together under one roof is very impressive and makes this a unique building that further enhances the university’s ability to offer a multitude of creative experiences.

“Downing have relished the opportunity to lead the project through the delivery process from initial briefing to handover and will continue to support Leeds Beckett University as they settle into the building.”

The School of Arts is the latest development born of a collaboration between Downing and Leeds Beckett University, following the multi-award-winning Broadcasting Place development featuring best-in-class student accommodation and teaching space that Downing delivered for Leeds Beckett in 2009.

Leeds School of Arts, with a history that spans over 170 years is united by a common goal: to encourage individuality, to inspire creativity, and to create impact. There are over 3000 students, spread across over 40 courses, in subjects ranging from Architecture and Landscape, Creative Technology, Art and Design, through to Fashion, Film, Music and Performing Arts. They have an exciting and experimental approach to contemporary, creative practice – set in the heart of a culturally energised city.

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