17 Mar

Trio chase Senate House contract


Three contractors are battling it out in a bid to earn the right to revamp the iconic Senate House North Block in central London.

Balfour Beatty, Graham Construction and Willmott Dixon are all currently contesting the contract for the project, which is expected to cost as much as £20 million.

Plans for the building, which is owned by the University of London, will involve the lowering of a courtyard area and the installation of a large glass roof structure that organisers claim will provide extra study space for students from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The refurbishment of the Grade II listed building will also provide a mixture of teaching spaces and academic offices.

The University of London has already employed Mace to deliver pre-construction, project management, design and cost consultancy on  the landmark project, while also helping to gain planning permission and listed building consent for the revamp, which is due to get underway in May.

Senate House was originally designed by Charles Holden and was widely celebrated as being a welcome Modernist addition to the Georgian squares of Bloomsbury when it was first opened.

No expense was spared on the lavish new building, with the exterior lined with Portland Stone, while the inside featured eye catching Travertine marble.

Its striking looks made it an inspiring place for both students and teachers, while also providing the backdrop to a number of well-known movies, such as Nanny McPhee and Sir Ian McKellen’s celebrated film version of Richard III.

Such a striking appearance was combined with cutting edge engineering, utilising a form of storage heating that had never before been used within such a large building.

Keith Jennings, project manager for the revamp told Diary: “It is difficult to imagine how London was when it was first built.

“It was the tallest building in London at the time.

“The only thing that came close was St Paul’s Cathedral. They were doing these types of things in New York but not in London.”

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