Multi-million pound revamp for city landmark

A HUGE multi-million pound revamp of the Sheffield University arts tower has been approved by councillors.

The 19-storey building is to refitted throughout to equip the building for the 21st century and to rid it of its unwanted 'Faulty Tower' tag.

Wear and tear, the higher expectations of staff and students and changing legislation have taken their toll on the 43-year-old building, which houses the departments of modern languages, philosophy, Biblical studies, and architecture as well as library administration.

The comprehensive programme of refurbishment is due to start next autumn.

The 300 staff who work there and the 2,500 students often refer to it as the 'Faulty Tower' because of its many deficiencies. In particular the toilets are poor and it gets too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

Councillors at Sheffield Council's City Centre, South and East Planning and Highways Area Board were told the entire tower "leaks like a sieve" due to it being single glazed throughout.

Other problems include poor entrances and exits that often see groups of students queuing to get in or out, badly designed fire escapes, health and safety concerns over the methods of opening windows, and poor facilities for disabled people.

Architects hope the refit will result in the building becoming much more efficient in heating and ventilation, reduce glare, ease congestion around the lifts and lecture theatres, improve disabled access and increase the number of toilets.

Double glazing will be installed and all the blinds will be replaced.

But the general public won't see any great difference once the work is complete because the tower is grade II* listed for its architectural importance.

And its renowned paternoster lift is to stay.

What do you think about the revamp of an iconic city landmark? Add your comment below.

The lift doesn't have doors that slide open once the car arrives at a particular floor - instead it has 38 cars that continuously revolve on a loop. Passengers have to ready themselves to step into the car before it disappears into the lift shaft.

Coun John Hesketh told the meeting: "I have been walking past this building for 40 years or so. I wish the project well. Despite being a large tower it is a cheery thing to see. And I am especially glad to see the paternoster lift is being retained."

English Heritage say the Arts Tower is "the most elegant university tower block in Britain of its period". It is a half-size copy of the famous Seagram Building in New York by the modernist master Mies van der Rohe.

The tower will soon lose its status as the city's tallest building once the 32-storey St Paul's tower is complete next to the Winter Garden.

Main news index