Gilbert Ash wins £20m London college contract

An artist's impression of how the refurbished 1970s building will  look
An artist's impression of how the refurbished 1970s building will look

Construction firm Gilbert-Ash has been appointed to carry out the £20 million refurbishment of the world-renowned Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London (UCL).

The project, which commenced in December 2014, will double the amount of teaching and research space available at Wates House while retaining the building’s existing structure.

The contract is the latest high profile project for the Belfast based firm which last year rebuilt the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool which went on to win the prestigious Stirling Prize.

This appointment marks a continuation of the successful relationship with Hawkins\Brown who were also the architects on previous contracts such as the Polish Embassy in London and Drake’s Tie Company also in London.

“This will be a fantastic project to work on,” said managing director Ray Hutchinson.

“The Bartlett School of Architecture is very prestigious and its reputation is known worldwide. It is a great follow-on project from the Everyman Theatre which won the 2014 Stirling Prize and we are looking forward to working closely with the client and the architects in the coming months.”

Stating that the business had established a strong track record of delivery on bespoke design and build projects, he admitted this project might be a little tougher than others.

“We are very aware that being a school of architecture, our delivery will be closely followed by a discerning audience, so it is a great opportunity for our team to showcase their expertise.”

The project forms part of the university’s wider programme to modernise its campus to provide the most comprehensive built environment education and research facility in the country.

Wates House was initially designed to house 380 students and less than 90 staff when it opened 40 years ago. The Bartlett School of Architecture now accommodates over 2,300 students and staff across eight buildings. This project is seen as an important opportunity to demonstrate how the retrofit of the 1970’s building stock can produce world-class architecture.