The construction of the University of Hertfordshire’s largest building, the new School for Physics, Engineering and Computer Science (SPECS), has reached its highest point.
Foundations were laid last year for the BDP-designed five-storey research and enterprise facility, due to open in September 2024 as the new home for students, teachers, researchers and the commercial sector to work together across a range of scientific fields.
It will feature 15,000m2 of sophisticated facilities, including robotics labs, cybersecurity facilities, a structural testing facility and an experiential learning zone, allowing projects to be taken from idea to testing, all under one roof.
Keith Papa, head of science, technology and research at BDP, said: The SPECS project deploys smart design and construction methods to bring a truly ground breaking building to life.”
The design uses modern manufacture and assembly principles. The primary 9m x 9m structural grid across the entire building allows a high degree of commonality across elements, reducing the need for ‘special’ panels. A mixed facade of materials including brickwork and corrugated metal, which pays homage to the region’s aircraft hangers and the original technical college founded by De Havilland in 1952.
Papa continues: “It’s a great example of how engineering and architecture comes together to create a fantastic, sustainable research building and we are so happy to see it reach this stage.”
Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, said: “This is an exciting time for the University and we are delighted to be marking this major milestone for the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science, ahead of schedule.
“Not only will this building help to boost critical skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but it will also ensure our students are ready for the future; trained in the most up-to-date technology and research to be ready for the challenges of an ever-changing world. It will also help us increase diversity in this area; support growth by enhancing our research facilities for use by our commercial partners and ensure we continue to play a key role in boosting the economy for Hertfordshire and beyond.”
David Rowsell, Northern Home Counties Area Director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “This ceremony marks an exciting moment in the development of the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science, as when complete this building will boost much needed STEM skills while providing a vital hub for advanced research and academic innovation.
"During the design and construction of this new building, we've utilised our Intelligent Solutions approach to deliver innovative engineering solutions to help ensure we create a high-end facility tailored to the University of Hertfordshire’s requirements."