‘Stunning’ atrium to be latest addition to Sheffield Hallam University’s growing portfolio

Work on Sheffield Hallam University's Sheaf and Eric Mensforth buildings.

Work on Sheffield Hallam University's Sheaf and Eric Mensforth buildings.

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Sheffield Hallam University’s cranes and scaffolding dominate the view for visitors stepping out the city’s railway station.

The university has invested millions in the city in recent years, and the latest project, a modern atrium between the Sheaf and Eric Mensforth buildings, is well under way.

An artist's impression of the new atrium.

An artist's impression of the new atrium.

The £11 million project, part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England involves the refurbishment of the two existing buildings to create modern teaching spaces for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem) students.

Director of estates and facilities Mark Swales said the university was ‘constantly’ updating its buildings to give its students ‘vibrant, modern, flexible spaces’ in which to study.

“The centrepiece of the Sheaf/Eric Mensforth development will be a stunning new atrium providing a physical link between the two buildings, currently under construction,” he said.

“This impressive new space will provide a gateway to the city from Sheaf Street for staff, students and visitors alike. For visitors arriving by rail, including prospective students and parents, the development will provide a high-impact, iconic new entrance to the university.

Paul Dickerson, managing director of Houltons, and university governor Geoff Dawson.

Paul Dickerson, managing director of Houltons, and university governor Geoff Dawson.

“The atrium will provide space for galleries, collaborative spaces and social learning and is transforming an uninspiring concrete walkway into a publicly-accessible, open and flexible space, complete with exhibition spaces and a café, which will promote interaction and provide space for a range of social outward-facing activities, which will contribute to improving the student experience and external engagement.”

Originally built for the department of engineering, the Sheaf building has been shared by the departments of art and design, and engineering and mathematics, since the closure of the Psalter Lane site in 2008.

As courses have grown in popularity, student number have risen, putting pressure on space. To cope, the university has moved its Sheffield Institute of Arts to the old Head Post Office building nearby, following significant refurbishment work on the Grade II listed building.

Mr Swales said the developments were ‘crucial’ to provide a ‘clear sense of place for both art and design and engineering students’.

Contractors on the Sheaf/Eric Mensforth development are Geo Houlton and Son, and the architects are Watson Batty. As part of the work, the link bridge over Pond Street between the Sheaf and the Surrey building opposite is also being redeveloped into a covered walkway, linking that side of the city campus to the main university buildings around Howard Street and Hallam Square.

Work on the refurbishment began in 2015 and is due to be finished in summer 2017.

The university’s new £32 million building in Charles Street, home to the Sheffield Institute of Education, opened in April.

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