Topping out for Materials Science and Metallurgy Building



An important phase in the construction of the new £41 million home for the University of Cambridge Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy has been reached.

The project team have done a great job in meeting our requirements and we are very excited at seeing our new home rise out of the ground.
    —Professor Lindsay Greer


More than 60 guests attended an event in the actual building last week to watch the traditional topping out ceremony to celebrate the outer shell of the building being completed.

Chris Tredget, Managing Director of main contractor Willmott Dixon (pictured centre), carried out the topping out, marked by the final concrete pour onto a section of the roof, rounded off with the pouring of a bottle of locally brewed beer. He was joined by Michael Bienias (pictured left), the University Director of Estate Management and Professor Lindsay Greer (pictured right), Head of the Department.

The Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy is committed to making significant advances in the synthesis, processing and characterisation of materials to deliver enhanced performance, and addressing issues of sustainability and the scarcity of resources.

It is currently spread across five separate buildings in the historic city centre, some dating back to the 1870s, which are unsuitable for modern scientific research.

Designed by the international architectural practice NBBJ, the building will meet the challenge of accommodating the broad range of research fields the Department covers, from large-scale processing of metals through to nanotechnology, materials chemistry and the development of medical materials.

The new facility will contain a mix of laboratories, support facilities, offices and social space with a total gross floor area of ten thousand six hundred square metres.

It will include an electron microscope facility built on a two-metre deep concrete slab to eliminate vibration. The facility is also designed to avoid electro-magnetic interference from external sources. It is set to be one of the best-adapted places for electron microscopy in the world. Indeed the whole building has been designed around the nature of the instruments needed for this type of research, and with a view to being adaptable for future technological developments and research needs.

Lead architect Rebecca Mortimore said: “The design of the building has been guided by primary goals identified during the briefing stage. It will be a welcoming, legible building, allowing the legacy of the department and identity of the individual research groups to be expressed. The building will facilitate collaboration between happy occupants and integrate teaching with research.

It will balance performance and flexibility, allowing room to grow and adapt whilst enabling science and research.”

Chris Tredget, MD of Willmott Dixon said: ““This project presents many technical and logistical challenges, but that is precisely why our staff are keen to work with the University, their requirements are always interesting and challenging.”

Professor Lindsay Greer, Head of the Department, said: “The project team have done a great job in meeting our requirements and we are very excited at seeing our new home rise out of the ground.”

Michael Bienias, Director of Estate Management for the University, said “ The successful delivery so far is testament to the 2 stage Develop and Construct procurement process which we initiated and use in Estate Management.  The process encourages the Client Rep User, Consultants and Contractor, including their sub-contractors and suppliers to work together as one co-ordinated Project Team.”

In addition to research, the building will incorporate teaching of undergraduate years 3 and 4, masters and doctorates.

Uniting the Department together in one building will enable the development of a highly integrated research facility, promoting better communication and reaction.

The relocation to the University’s growing Science and Technology campus at West Cambridge will enable a valuable increase in cross-disciplinary work with neighbours in the Institute for Manufacturing, Centre for Nanoscience, the Cavendish Laboratory, the Computer Laboratory, Electrical Engineering, the Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge Enterprise and the Veterinary School.

In addition to major underwriting by the University, the building has received generous funding from the Wolfson Foundation, The Ann D Foundation, Anne Glover CBE, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.

Construction is scheduled for completion in early Autumn 2012.

Project Team:

Project Management: University of Cambridge Estate Management

Architect: NBBJ

Contractor: Willmott Dixon

Contract Administrator: Davis Langdon

Cost Manager: Turner and Townsend

Services Engineer: Hoare Lea

Structural Engineer: Ramboll

CDM Coordinator: Gardiner & Theobald


Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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