Since August 2017, University Square has been partially closed for redevelopment as part of the Green Heart project. First the east side, and then the west side. This week, we reopened the entire Square for staff, students and the local community to enjoy.
The redeveloped Square includes new lighting and benches, as well as wider, flood-proof pathways suitable for pedestrians and cyclists. We hope the new system of pathways will also ease congestion in this popular space on campus. To make the area environmentally friendly for people and wildlife, we’ve planted 13 new trees in the Square, to accompany the existing 38, which include Oaks, Limes, Redwoods and a Tulip Tree. The Square also includes the University’s first rain gardens and a variety of plants and grasses.
For a little while the Square will look a bit empty, but please bear with us. Grass reseeding is now underway, as well as additional planting, and we hope with good weather, this will flourish very soon… just in time for summer! Work will now continue on the former library and North Car Park site with the aim to open the entire parkland in late 2018 – early 2019.
A new view on campus
The transformation of the first phase of University Square is now complete. Our onsite teams continued to work through the cold, snowy condition over the last week to ensure that work remained on schedule. The redeveloped space, on the east side of University Square, has had new lighting, benches and pathways installed, as well as the first of 160 new trees across the Green Heart.
Now, until June, the second phase of University Square will be transformed. Temporary pathways and ramps are now installed where appropriate and disabled access has been maintained. These new routes are highlighted in red on the map below. Areas marked in green will be under construction and inaccessible to the public. The hoardings will be removed in June and University Square will be fully accessible once more.
Our commitment to staff and students is to ensure we provide timely and accurate information about what changes are to come, and what alternative routes are best to take around campus whilst construction is taking place; including disabled access. This will be done in a variety of ways, including signage on campus, Twitter, blog posts and the Intranet; all will be regularly updated.
If you have any questions about the changes, please email the Green Heart team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Find your new route
Progress on the Green Heart is about to step up a gear over the next 2 weeks, so we thought we’d give you an update, so you are clued up on what is to come.
The Green Heart team from Willmott Dixon are hurtling towards the completion of phase 1 of University Square. The paving is being completed, new benches are in position, timber lamp columns are going in and topsoil has now been placed ready before the start of phase 2 mid-February.
Most excitedly, a delegation from the site team and designers are heading over to Ireland for a factory visit to check on the quality and progress of the pre-cast bridge which will sit in the parkland. Meanwhile, preparation for the bridge’s arrival continue; we are currently reinforcing and waterproofing the services ‘subway’ that forms the foundations for the bridge and café in front of Muirhead Tower. Watch our animation to see where the bridge will be placed. Finally, at the north of the site, the removal of surplus soil to form the amphitheatre continues.
Elsewhere on campus, the skyline has a new addition, a huge tower crane behind the Old Gym. It was put up last weekend, and when the rigging is complete, will be ready for the next stage of the project extending the upper floors over the sports hall roof.
That’s one big crane!
The first phase of Green Heart development in University Square is well underway, and will be completed in February. We will then landscape the area of University Square closest to Staff House. During this time old pathways have been changed or removed, and new pathways have been created. Thanks to your feedback, we have improved accessibility in University Square.
- We’ve added a new pathway that runs along the current hoardings, which means you don’t have to go all the way around to get from one side of University Square to the other.
Get from A to B quicker
2. We’ve added more vinyl pads across grass areas, which means you get less muddy and there’s less congestion in this area.
No more wading through the mud
3. We’ve added a new pathway across the cobbled entrance to University Square, making it easier for those with specific accessibility needs to travel in this area and gain access to the ramp.
No more cobbles
We can continue to make changes with your help. If you think accessibility could be improved further in specific area, please get in touch at email@example.com and we will get to work.
With Christmas in the rear view mirror, and spring (somewhere) on the horizon, perhaps now is the time to consider changing how you travel to work? Lots of New Year’s resolutions revolve around getting fit and healthy, saving money or living more environmentally friendly. Cycling to work ticks all the boxes and the Universities Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator Peter Edwards is here to help you get started.
The Sustainable Travel team operate a staff bike loan scheme that enables you to borrow a hybrid bike for a minimum of 4 weeks complete with lights, a lock and even a helmet. We can even help you plan a route using quieter roads, off-road routes and shared use paths if you want to avoid busy roads. We have 7 bikes in total with a wide range of sizes suitable for men and women.
Join the team
In the last year more than 30 members of staff have loaned bikes and lots have gone on to buy their own bike via our salary sacrifice Cyclescheme.
‘Never before would I have considered cycling as a viable and enjoyable means of commuting to and from work’ Andrew (Business School)
‘I think the scheme is fantastic. I’ve gone from a really nervous cyclist to really loving it and have now bought my own bike to ride to work’ Hannah (DARO)
The University is well placed to cycle to with the canal (although closed from next week for improvements), shared use paths all along Bristol Road and not far from the scenic Rea Valley and Bournbrook routes. Cycling to work will help you live healthily, arrive refreshed and ready for work, live longer and save money (especially if you’ve got a free loan bike) so why not give it a try? You’ll even be able to park right outside your office! To find out more, get in touch with the team today.
The University of Birmingham’s Estates Strategy capital masterplan, which cover the five-year period 2016-2012, is well underway, and has seen the opening of the Library and the Sport & Fitness Club, among other projects. The University has now announced Phase 2 of this plan, which outlines new projects between 2022 – 2026.
Phase 2 continues to focus on our students, with a significant academic building being delivered every year for five years, starting in 2018 with the completion of the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), which will transform science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning. There are also four other new flagship projects as part of the new phase:
- A new teaching and learning facility, which will be a hub for education. The building will provide a large lecture theatre and an interactive lecture theatre with supporting social space to support the modern learning experience at Birmingham.
- The new School of Engineering, due for completion in 2020, will bring together all of our engineering disciplines into one state-of-the-art building. It will incorporate a new centre of excellence in rail innovation, bringing industry into the heart of our campus.
- The new Molecular Sciences Building will be a focal point for strengthening our core research capabilities in the chemical, environmental and bio-molecular sciences. A designated hub for the School of Chemistry will be created and office and laboratory accommodation will be provided for existing School academic staff and researchers.
- An extension to the University Business School will provide much needed facilities to a successful and growing centre of excellence, allowing the majority of its activities to take place in one building from 2019.
In total, these projects represent an investment of more than £200m as part of the £606m total investment in the Estate in the coming years, using a mixed model of funding. The total includes a proportion of private investment, reflecting the strong financial position the University is in. This ambitious programme is part of the important role we have in celebrating, protecting and upgrading University buildings for the benefit of students and the academic community, building on the history of the institution.
Find out more about what the University of Birmingham is developing in our Estates Strategy brochure.
Landscaping the first phase of University Square is now thoroughly underway with hoardings constructed, trees protected and old paving pulled up ready for the installation of sparkly new slabs (please note: they won’t actually be sparkly!) In November, we will be bringing an array of new trees to the site for planting.
Phase 1 of landscaping
But, as a result, many of the old pathways have now become inaccessible. To ensure that everyone can navigate around University Square safely and easily, temporary pathways and ramps have been constructed. All these routes will be clearly signposted. The diagram below outlines there location.
We have worked with colleagues with specific accessibility needs to guarantee that they are prepared for the changes. If you have any specific requirements or concerns around accessibility due to disability or visual impairment, please email the Green Heart team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Please read the signs