Known as the ‘Oscars of higher education’, the awards demonstrate the best of UK Universities, recognising the talent, dedication and innovation of individuals and teams across all aspects of university life.
The University’s Estates and Facilities team has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Estates Team category, for their delivery of the Verena Holmes Building throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, a time of unprecedented challenge.
This new £65 million STEM building is part of the University’s 15-year Estate Master Plan to transform the city campus and is critical to the University’s new STEM provision, realising a six-year regional vision for future workforce transformation in science, engineering, technology and medicine.
There were many challenges along the way. During Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, and while navigating the potential impact of Brexit on supply chains to Kent, construction stalled for weeks at a time. The on-site workforce was also often reduced.
Throughout the project, which was all managed in-house, the Estates and Facilities team skilfully and professionally led a programme of robust governance and risk management, working with colleagues, and alongside the main building contractor and architects. The team successfully sourced and secured specialist hi-tech facilities from global suppliers. Despite ongoing restrictions, students, staff and industry can now access these unique spaces. They include simulation suites with replica NHS hospital wards, an x-ray room and community flat, police custody suite, bioscience and chemistry labs, sports science physiology labs, engineering workshops and a cadaveric anatomy lab.
With sustainability at the heart of the design, the team also achieved a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating for the facility, demonstrating energy and C02 emissions improvement on government standards by around 14%, air permeability at an improvement of around 70% and water consumption savings of around 33%.
The team’s creativity, their collaborative and inclusive planning and design with internal and external stakeholders, and their skill and rigour in managing unique challenges, will help to transform the regional workforce and student experience for decades to come.
This year’s ceremony will take place on 25 November in central London.