University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops, Stirling and Gowan building design

University of Leicester Engineering Department, England

Stirling and Gowan Building Roof Renewal: University of Leicester Development, central England, UK

6 Dec 2017

University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction Publication

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.

University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester, photographs by Simon Kennedy

University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction book news

7 Oct 2017

University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction

University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction Exceeds Expectations

Complex project to replace the innovative Stirling and Gowan glass panelled roof is completed

6 October 2017 – a celebration event takes place on Monday 9 October from 6.30pm at the University of Leicester. The Engineering Building roof will be lit up with coloured lighting from 7.45pm. Attendance by invite only.

Watch a video on the Engineering Building, its construction and history:
University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Film on YouTube

The ambitious project to replace the roof of the University of Leicester’s world-famous Engineering Building, which saw all the 2,500 glass panels of the diamond-shaped roof reconstructed and replaced to exacting standards, has been officially completed.

Taking nearly two years of intricate work on site to accomplish, the extraordinary results of this technically demanding project will be celebrated by the University next week at an event on Monday 9 October.

Photographs of the building work in progress:
University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

The University of Leicester has invested substantially in repairing its Grade II* listed Engineering building to improve its technical performance and comfort for users.

The complex project, delivered by a consortium of partners including Lendlease and other trade packages, required demanding engineering solutions to overcome the challenges of enhancing an historic building, and contemporary technical requirements, whilst maintaining the exterior aesthetic. The glazing system for the roof is a bespoke installation where no empirical industry standards could be applied.

Pete Bale, who was Project Manager while at the University of Leicester, said: “The new glass roof and façade to the Stirling and Gowan Engineering Building has exceeded the expectations of all those that can now see it, including many within the project team.

External view of the Engineering Building, showing the fabric envelope:
University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

“The reproduction of the original detailing has brought new meaning and life to the old structure. The way the light changes and reflects on the facets throughout the day is truly beautiful, and is testament to the original design. I am immensely proud to have been involved in the restoration of this iconic building for the University and future generations.

“Without the collaborative resolve and partnership between the University, the City Council, heritage stakeholders, designers and contractors, this complex project would not have come to fruition and this significant piece of post-war heritage would not have received the attention that it deserves. It has been a privilege to work with all concerned and I am delighted the University is safeguarding for this structure for future generations.”

Simon Gorski, Lendlease’s Executive General Manager of UK Regions, said: “Replacing the world-renowned roof of this iconic engineering structure was a feat of engineering in itself in which no stone was left unturned to enhance this famous UK structure.

“It is testament to the expertise of our team that by working in close partnership with the University we have rejuvenated this building to meet 21st century standards, while working within the constraints of the original 1960s design. Retrofitting existing buildings is an important part of the ongoing maintenance of the UK’s property stock and this is a good case study of what can be achieved.”

Professor Jingzhe Pan, Acting Head of the Department of Engineering, said: “I am delighted to see the results of the work on the Engineering Building roof, which looks stunning. There have been considerable technical and engineering challenges in delivering this project and it has been a pleasure to see how Lendlease, Arup, the professional and trade contractors, and our own Estates team, overseen by Pete Bale, have worked together to overcome these. The Department of Engineering at Leicester will greatly benefit from the improved environment that it has created.”

University of Leicester Engineering Building
picture : University of Leicester

Annie Provan, Leicester City Council building conservation team leader, said: “From a building conservation and planning perspective, this project was a huge challenge and we are immensely proud of what has been achieved.

“To replace the entire roof of such a complex and iconic building was major undertaking and we all shared a tremendous sense of responsibility to this major piece of twentieth century architecture. The skill, professionalism and attention to detail shown by all partners has successfully secured a long-term future for this amazing Leicester building.”

University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

An event to mark the completion of the roof will be held on Monday 9 October at 6.30pm at the University of Leicester’s Event Square and is open to the public but spaces are limited. Reserve a place via the Eventbrite Page:

Guests will hear from a range of speakers including Catherine Cockcroft, Chief Executive of the 20th Century Society, Thomas Pearson, Senior Designer & Conservationist at Arup, Ellis Woodman, Director of the Architecture Foundation and Daily Telegraph architecture correspondent as well as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Paul Boyle. Presentations will be followed by a lighting display and tours of the building to celebrate the success of the project with the event coming to an end at 9pm.

It is sponsored by Arup, Lendlease, Cundall, Pick Everard, Lyndon Scaffolding and P&R Morson.

University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

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, had a unique glass roof and vertical glazed panels system which reached the end of its useful life.

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 will provide a faithful recreation of the different geometric profiles and forms and extend the functionality of the building for another fifty years.

Pete Bale, Project Manager on the Engineering Building roof project:
University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

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.

Read a feature on the technical work of the project here: Roof reconstruction on University of Leicester’s Engineering Building

University of Leicester Engineering Building roof
picture : University of Leicester

About the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. The University of Leicester is ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings.

It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.
Find out more: University of Leicester

Values and Vision
The University of Leicester is committed to a culture of collaboration. We believe teaching and research are inseparable and that success is built on partnership and innovation. We have a focus on students and commitment to social mobility and foster a culture of equality where everyone is valued.

We are committed to ensuring our successes drive local enterprise and business and contribute to the success of the city and region. We have an international focus and celebrate the unique character of our University – a welcoming and close-knit campus in one of the most multicultural cities in the UK.

University of Leicester Engineering Building Roof Reconstruction images / information from University of Leicester

19 Mar 2012

Leicester Engineering Building

Leicester Engineering Department Building Talk


29 Mar 2012

14th Annual Industry Lecture at University of Leicester on 29 March

Britain’s most iconic building of the mid 20th Century will be the subject of the 14th Annual Industry Lecture at the University of Leicester’s Department of Engineering.

“Leicester’s Engineering Building: Architectural Dream – Engineering Nightmare?” is the title of the lecture to be delivered by Alan Berman from Berman Guedes Stretton Architects and Thomas Pearson from Arup.

University of Leicester Engineering Department Building:
University of Leicester Engineering Department Building
photo : University of Leicester

The lecture, organised in conjunction with the Engineering Society, takes place on Thursday 29 March at 6pm in the Rattray Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester.

Head of Department Professor John Fothergill said: “The Engineering Building at the University of Leicester – designed by Architects Stirling and Gowan – is considered one of the most important and iconic buildings of the 20th Century.

“Architects travel the world to see it and it has appeared on postage stamps and artworks of the time. It is protected from change by having been listed Grade II*. Yet, from the first day, its technical performance was poor and it has had technical problems associated with its use of new materials and techniques.”

University of Leicester Engineering Department Building
photo : University of Leicester

A project to preserve and enhance the building was announced by the University last year. The roof and glazed walls of the 1960s building have reached the end their useful life and, in consultation with English Heritage (amongst others), the University of Leicester is investing in the building to extend its functionality for another 50 years.

University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops:
University of Leicester Engineering Department Building
picture : Berman Guedes Stretton

Alan Berman, of Berman Guedes Stretton Architects, and Thomas Pearson of Arup who are leading the design team, will talk about why this building is so renowned, how it relates to the English tradition of glass buildings, and the engineering challenges that the project will have to face.

The project will involve replacing all the glazing panels in the famous sculptural, diamond‐shaped roof, and the vertical walls of the workshops.

Alan Berman was born in South Africa, studied architecture at Cambridge and UCL, and set up a practice shortly after qualifying: this has grown to 50 strong in Oxford and London. Standing down as a director recently he now concentrates on design and writes and lectures on contemporary architecture and its roots. Alan is a passionate advocate for modern design, but a critic of much current architecture. Amongst many hobby horses is his concern that while most people claim an understanding of style and decoration, the process of design is poorly understood.

His book “Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy – Three Radical Buildings” in which the Department of Engineering figures large aims to explain the importance of Stirling, and his early collaborator James Gowan, on architectural thinking. Alan is engaged on another book on Stirling and also other architecture of the post war period.

Thomas Pearson studied Engineering at Oxford, specialising in early English medieval architecture, and Urban Design at the Bartlett, UCL, where he developed a concern for how building facades operate symbolically in the context of the city. His work for Arup as a facade designer has become increasingly focussed on the restoration of historic buildings. He is interested in how contemporary design can be brought to bear on heritage problems – not least in the re-interpretation of old places for modern life.

• Admission is by ticket only. However, tickets are available from Julie Hage, Department of Engineering, University of Leicester, or 0116 252 2547

Berman Guedes Stretton

25 Oct 2011

University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops

Leicester Engineering Department Building Renovation

Design: Berman Guedes Stretton


University of Leicester Engineering Department Building:
University of Leicester Engineering Department Building
picture : University of Leicester

Berman Guedes Stretton has been appointed by the University of Leicester to renovate its engineering department workshops. Designed by Stirling and Gowan in 1959 and considered one of the most significant and influential post war buildings in the UK, it is famous for its sculptural, diamond shaped glazed roof form.

“Rigorous analysis and inventive technical solutions are required to improve the building’s performance “ explains Alan Berman, founding partner of the practice who recently published ‘Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy- 3 radical Buildings.”

“Over fifty years on, the basic palette of low cost materials and technology used to achieve the original, radical design has reached the end of its serviceable life. The university now needs to return the building to a good standard of weather tightness and thermal performance, but understands the need to preserve the unique power of the original design.”

Berman Guedes Stretton’s role will be to deal with “design intent”, to secure the support of those with an interest within the heritage community, and to participate with the specialist engineers at Arup (who have been invited to play a major role) in developing technical solutions that remain true to the original conception but that allow the building to perform as is expected of buildings today.

University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops:
University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops
picture : Berman Guedes Stretton

From the 24 practices that submitted bids to the university, six were shortlisted and three were selected for interview.

Key to the appointment was the practice’s successful working relationship with English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society, developed during the renovation of numerous other listed buildings by other notable 20th Century architects such as Powell and Moya, Ahrends Burton Koralek, Architects Co-Partnership, and Howell Killick Partridge and Amis.

Berman Guedes Stretton has an expanding workload in the Midlands. The practice is working on The Grand Hotel, one of the biggest projects in Birmingham, as well as a series of projects for Birmingham and Wolverhampton Universities. Alan Berman ascribes the practice’s growing success to their flexible approach and willingness to adapt their approach for each job.

“Our view is that we are problem solvers: we are sufficiently light on our feet to use our design skills and imagination to deliver the clients’ aspiration – and hopefully more – whatever the particular challenges of each individual project.”

University of Leicester Engineering Department Workshops Redevelopment – Team

Architect: Berman Guedes Stretton
Engineers: Arup
Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon (AECOM)
Consultants: Bidwells

Berman Guedes Stretton was established in 1996 and today has a growing team of architects and designers with offices in Oxford and London. The practice has developed a strong reputation for making sense of complex and difficult historical contexts and conceiving sensitive and sophisticated modern insertions to reinvent and rejuvenate them.

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

James Stirling

Location: Leicester, England

Leicester Buildings

NMT Building
Design: Associated Architects
NMT Building Leicester, Medical Teaching Facility
picture : Associated Architects
NMT Building Leicester

Leicestershire Architecture

Charles Wilson Building, University of Leicester
Sir Denys Lasdun
Charles Wilson Building University of Leicester
photos : Warren Jukes
Civic Trust Award 1969

Curve – Leicester Theatre & Performing Arts Centre
Design: Rafael Vinoly Architects
Curve Leicester Building: Performing Arts Centre
photo : Peter Cook/View
Curve Leicester

David Wilson Library, University of Leicester
Associated Architects
University of Leicester building

De Montfort University Library, Leicester
Eva Jiricna Architects
De Montfort University Library

Highcross Leicester – formerly The Shires Shopping Centre
Design: Foreign Office Architects
Highcross Leicester

Leicester College Abbey Park Building
Bond Bryan Architects
Leicester College Building

River Soar Foot and Cycle Bridge
Explorations Architecture with Buro Happold
River Soar Bridge Competition : RIBA Competition

County Architecture adjacent to Leicestershire

Derbyshire Buildings

Lincolnshire Buildings

Northamptonshire Buildings

Nottinghamshire Buildings

Warwickshire Buildings

James Stirling Architect

English Architect

Comments / photos for the University of Leicester Engineering Department page welcome

Website: University of Leicester