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Staff and students working on Old Road Campus, as well as visitors, won’t have failed to have noticed the large hole (where the Amenities Building/BioEscalator will be located) with very little going on over the summer. This has led to a number of questions as to what is happening. We try to answer some of them here.

Has the (Amenities Building/BioEscalator) project been abandoned?
No. During the first half of 2016 it became clear that the project was facing a number of serious challenges, including a significant funding shortfall in relation to the increasing costs of construction, as well as questions over the building’s business plan. In July a decision was taken by University Council to consider a proposal to amend the intended use of the building in order to help with the financial issues. The building contractor was asked to stop working on the project, while the team reviewed the possibility of changing the use of part of the building and considered the financial impact that would have. An update went to University Council at the end of October; and full approval to proceed with the revised project has now been granted.

So what will the building contain?
The building will contain a 450 space car park, an area for the City Deal BioEscalator, some site wide amenities (such as a distribution centre and site-wide kitchen), and space for a pharmaceutical company, which has long-standing research ties with Medical Sciences.

Does that mean we won’t be getting any of the other amenities that were included in the consultation?
The original plan for the building included an aspiration to create a further catering outlet (to replace the one demolished within the Rosemary Rue), replacement shared teaching and meeting space, and perhaps a gym. The soon to be opened Big Data Institute will include an additional catering outlet and some more seminar rooms. There remains some unallocated space in the new Amenities/BioEscalator space, and the plan is to allocate it to teaching activities, which will be available shortly after the building is complete  We will be working with Heads of Departments and Institutes over the coming year to assess how further improved facilities can be housed in the other new ORC developments.

So the hole won’t be turned into an Olympic Size swimming pool?
Unfortunately not. But staff and students are reminded of the excellent facilities at the Iffley Road Sports Complex including a Swimming Pool and a Gym.

When will work start again?
The building contractor was re-engaged on the project on 7 November 2016, but you won’t see much on site activity until the New Year. Construction of the building will then take about 18 months and the team will put in place the usual communication channels to keep staff on site informed of progress and any disruptions. For up to date news, please visit our ORC Planned Development and Update webpages.  

If you have any further questions about this project please contact Chris Price (Head of Strategic Planning and Major Projects)