Once in a lifetime project to preserve iconic Stirling and Gowan Engineering Building

The University has launched a new £19.5million project, and a fundraising appeal, to replace the roof and glazed facades of its world-famous Engineering Building to secure its use well into the 21st century.

Designed by architects Stirling and Gowan, the Grade II* listed building is recognised internationally as one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century and is considered an architectural icon. The building, constructed in the 1960s, has a unique glass roof and vertical glazed panels system which has now reached the end of its useful life.

It was the first major post-modern building in Britain and the first major commission for architect James Stirling, who went on to give his name to the renowned Stirling Prize, and James Gowan who sadly passed away in June this year.

The work will involve replacing each of the 2,500 glass panels of the innovative 45-degree, patent-glazed, diamond-shaped roof, designed to provide north light to the Engineering research laboratories and workshops.

The project will cost £19.5 million, part funded from a loan from the European Investment Bank and the University’s own capital, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Professor Helen Atkinson CBE, FREng, Head of the Department of Engineering, commented: “Stirling and Gowan designed the building around the fact that it was for an Engineering Department. For example, the height of the tower was determined by the head of water required for thermofluids and hydraulics experiments and the interior of the building very much reflects the industrial aesthetic. The design has generated much controversy and architects come from all over the world to see it. It has even featured on a postage stamp. We are proud to be educating engineers for the 21st Century in this iconic building.”

Steve O’Connor, Director of Development, added: “The £19.5m replacement of the roof and ongoing preservation works will be essential to the future of this iconic building.  The University has launched a fundraising appeal to help complete the current project and provide essential philanthropic funds for the future preservation of the building.  Leading followers of Stirling and Gowan’s work, champions of modern architecture, individuals, alumni and businesses locally and worldwide will have the opportunity to secure the legacy of this architectural masterpiece and support discovery-led teaching and research for future generations of Engineering students and academics.”

Watch a video on the Engineering Building, its construction and history: