UCL East campus on track to deliver Olympic legacy
3 June 2021
UCL’s visionary campus in East London is one step closer to completion after its new buildings reached their full height, or ‘topped out’, at a ceremony led by UCL President and Provost Dr Michael Spence.
Dr Spence said the two UCL East structures, called Marshgate and Pool Street West, will be home to world-leading research from UCL that will ‘inspire a generation’.
Situated in East Bank on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the buildings comprise 50,000 sqm, equivalent to around seven Wembley football pitches. They have been designed for teaching, research, retail and community engagement, as well as student living.
The new campus will be a hub of creativity and collaboration between engineering, architecture, arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences and population health studies.
It will also be a world-class, climate resilient and low environmental impact development that promotes clean energy and enables low running costs and energy consumption. It will help reduce carbon emissions and contribute to and promote positive environmental outcomes throughout its design, construction and operation.
Speaking at a socially distanced ‘topping out’ ceremony for the buildings, UCL President and Provost Dr Michael Spence admired the stunning views across the Olympic Park and thanked construction partners for keeping the site running on time, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Dr Spence said: “UCL East will be transformative for everyone who lives, learns, teaches and innovates here. These stunning new structures will be home to world-leading research, world-beating student experiences, new jobs and new opportunities. The campus will be a fitting tribute to London 2012 and its legacy to ‘inspire a generation’.
“I would like to thank the many teams who have worked so hard to keep construction on track and I look forward to welcoming students and staff from around the corner and around the globe when UCL East begins to open next year. I believe its graduates will be the next generation of thinkers, makers and doers leading the world.”
UCL East will encourage collaboration between internal and external stakeholders and enhance working across academic disciplines, UCL researchers will be even better placed to tackle the biggest global challenges: from the future of manufacturing to robotics and artificial intelligence; from planetary sustainability to wellbeing and disability; from urbanisation to innovation in business, finance, culture and the arts.
Students will benefit from this open culture in a variety of ways, including living and studying in one location. Nearly 60 new degree programmes have been developed to promote ‘learning by doing’, integrating theory and practice and breaking boundaries between teaching and learning and research.
Prof Paola Lettieri, Director of UCL East, said: “Being here today to celebrate the topping out of our first two buildings is testament to the passion, dedication and commitment of all the teams involved, for two incredibly innovative buildings that will redefine what a university campus can be.
“Both Marshgate and Pool Street West will be home to ground-breaking research while being open and accessible to the outside world, playing an important role in this vibrant part of East London.
“Through the East Bank and our partnership with world-renowned organisations - UAL’s London College of Fashion, the V&A, Sadler’s Wells and the BBC – we will be offering our students, staff and local community a unique experience centred on collaboration and knowledge-sharing across disciplines, people, organisations and sectors.”
UCL academic staff are creating learning opportunities for students from completely different subject areas to meet and study together at UCL East, driving creativity and ideas to new levels. This includes equipping students with the skills for careers in the so-called ‘4th industrial revolution’, where physical, digital, and biological worlds overlap, building on advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics and many other technologies.
Dynamic post-graduate modules, co-designed by students, will cover entrepreneurship, wellbeing, intellectual property, communications, sustainability and more, aiming to overcome barriers between research, education, enterprise and public engagement.
Philip Willmott, Regional Director at VINCI Construction UK, who are building Pool Street West, said:
“Creating academic space as well as high-quality sustainable student accommodation within the two towers, which will house state-of-the-art facilities and form the foundations for the new campus, makes us incredibly proud of our achievements in reaching this milestone, and we look forward to handing over the completed building in Spring 2022.
“Completing the reinforced concrete structure at UCL East Pool Street West on both towers at Level 20 and Level 16 is a major milestone for this project.
“From piling commencing in February 2020, to maintaining a full presence through the pandemic, has certainly tested our teams. It has been a challenging time, but it has also been enjoyable, and to see the skeleton of the towers now starting to be clad in the precast concrete panels is very rewarding.”
Terry Spraggett, Managing Director Public Sector Construction at Mace, who are building Marshgate, said:
“We are proud to support UCL in delivering such a landmark building, which will form an integral part of the university’s continued ambition to create cutting-edge academic and research spaces for its students, staff and the wider public.
“Having achieved net zero carbon status as a business at the end of 2020, we’re proud to continue to build on our achievement and support UCL’s net zero carbon commitment. Together with the university and our supply chain partners we set out a bold carbon reduction plan that will see embodied carbon minimised when the building is completed.
“The quality of the work is testament to the collaborative team effort, and we are looking forward to when Marshgate will open in 2023.”
UCL East’s Pool Street West building is due to be completed in the spring of 2022 and open in the autumn of 2022. Marshgate is due to be finished in the winter of 2022, opening in the autumn of 2023. Together they will complement UCL’s main campus in Bloomsbury in central London, where the top 10 global university was founded almost 200 years ago.
Photos: John Cobb