University of Leicester Engineering Building Book, Department Workshops, Stirling and Gowan
University of Leicester Engineering Building
UoL Roof Renewal Publication, central England, UK 20th Century Architecture
6 Dec 2017
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Book
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction Publication
6th December 2017 – The ‘happy ending’ to the story of ambitious project to refurbish iconic Engineering Building
University of Leicester publishes account of the challenging build from the perspective of its lead designer
The Herculean task of replacing the iconic roof of one the world’s most revered pieces of 20th-century architecture has been captured on the page by the lead designer of the project.
Photo credit: University of Leicester, photographs by Simon Kennedy
The University of Leicester has published Diamond-tipped, the story of how the ambitious refurbishment of its Engineering Building was accomplished. Written by Thomas Pearson, an architectural conservationist at Arup, it offers an unrivalled insight into the Grade II* listed building, completed in 1963 to designs by architects James Stirling and James Gowan.
Published by the University of Leicester, the new book is available to purchase at the bookshop of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Diamond-tipped: Conservation at the Engineering Building, University of Leicester) or from the University of Leicester at Diamond-tipped: Conservation at the Engineering Building, University of Leicester Book.
The University of Leicester has invested substantially in the Engineering Building to improve its technical performance and comfort for users. The complex project took nearly two years of intricate work on site to accomplish, delivered by a consortium of partners. Overcoming the challenges of enhancing the historic building while respecting its unique appearance demanded sophisticated engineering solutions, including an entirely bespoke glazing system.
While the prospect of re-glazing a glass building might seem simple, the reality has been formidably challenging; Diamond-tipped documents the process, exploring the nuances of the conservation approach, the intricacies of the design, and the continuing resonance of the building today.
Thomas said: “The Engineering Building is famous in the architectural world, and the original design has been well documented already. I wanted to describe what happened next: the decline of the building’s health over half a century and what was done recently to fix it. It’s a fascinating story with a really happy ending.
“A project like this is a once-in-a-career opportunity. Working on a building of such international importance – and then telling its story – has been a great honour.
“I hope readers will appreciate the complexity of the building and the care we took to protect it. I also hope it helps ‘unlock’ the architecture: the Engineering Building still looks totally avant-garde and that puts a lot of people off. But like all great art there is a lot to admire once you get to know it.”
Working with a wider team including construction manager Lendlease and glazing contractor Fill Metallbau, the Arup team provided heritage consultancy, façade design, and other engineering services. The book includes sketches, technical drawings and photographs all the way through from concept design to completion, and presents Stirling & Gowan’s original design ‘warts and all’.
Brita Sread, Director of Estates and Campus Services at the University of Leicester, said: “When the University of Leicester started on the path to replace the roof of our iconic Engineering Building the enormity of the task of and enhancing and preserving Stirling and Gowan’s original vision soon became clear. The now completed roof is the result of meticulous and technically demanding work from our staff, contractors, heritage stakeholders and partners in the city of Leicester which Thomas Pearson details with meticulous attention. It is a fitting tribute to those who worked on this project, as well as a fascinating insight into this once-in-a-lifetime project.”
The Daily Telegraph included the Engineering Building in a national list of the fifty most famous structures in the UK, including Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, in 2008. Among its many other plaudits, it has been hailed as one of the top 10 most inspiring buildings in the UK and most recently, was listed as one of the ‘world’s best unsung buildings’ by The Guardian.
Following detailed negotiations with the University, Leicester City Council, Historic England and the 20th Century Society, work began on site in 2015. The aim was that the new roof and other works would protect the distinctive architecture, including all of the different geometric profiles and forms, and extend the functionality of the building for another fifty years.
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction images / information from University of Leicester
7 Oct 2017
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction Exceeds Expectations
Watch a video on the Engineering Building, its construction and history:
Complex project to replace the innovative Stirling and Gowan glass panelled roof is completed
19 Mar 2012
Leicester Engineering Building
Leicester Engineering Department Building Talk
25 Oct 2011
University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops
Leicester Engineering Department Building Renovation
Design: Berman Guedes Stretton
University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops images / information from S&R
Engineering Building, Leicester University
Dates built: 1959-63
Design: Stirling and Gowan: James Stirling, James Gowan and Frank Newby
Grade II* listed building
Address: University Rd, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.
picture : Associated Architects
NMT Building Leicester
Curve – Leicester Theatre & Performing Arts Centre
Rafael Vinoly Architects
photo : Peter Cook/View
David Wilson Library, University of Leicester
photo © Martine Hamilton Knight
University of Leicester building
De Montfort University Library, Leicester
Eva Jiricna Architects
photograph : Peter Cook
De Montfort University Library
Highcross Leicester – formerly The Shires Shopping Centre
Foreign Office Architects
image from ArcelorMittal
Leicester College Abbey Park Building
Bond Bryan Architects
image from architect
Leicester College Building
River Soar Foot and Cycle Bridge
Explorations Architecture with Buro Happold
image from architect
River Soar Bridge Competition : RIBA Competition
Read a feature on the technical work of the project here: Roof reconstruction on University of Leicester’s Engineering Building
County Architecture adjacent to Leicestershire
Comments / photos for the University of Leicester Engineering Department page welcome
Website: University of Leicester