Percy Gee building, Leicester

Project: Percy Gee building, Leicester

All-new Percy Gee building at University of Leicester recognised at regional awards ceremony

The £17m redevelopment of the University of Leicester's Percy Gee building has won another major regional award. The ambitious redesign of the University's Students’ Union was named Project of the Year at the East Midlands Constructing Excellence Awards.

The prize is the latest in a string of accolades for the newly revamped building, which was designed by architects Shepheard Epstein Hunter and constructed by Morgan Sindall plc. The project has so far scooped 18 awards and nominations this year.

The awards, which celebrate the best construction projects from the local area, were announced at a ceremony and dinner on 28 October 2011 in Whittlebury Hall, Northampton. The Project of the Year award goes to the team that shows the highest level of innovation and technical achievement, and recognises excellent teamwork and application of best practice.

The judges said:  “Only through the closest of collaboration and cooperation throughout was it possible to undertake and complete this very attractive , functional and sustainable construction solution , and the successful regeneration of an existing building .”

Steven Pidwill, Director of architect Shepheard Epstein Hunter, said: “It’s wonderful for the whole team to be recognised by this award which required excellent management skills by Morgan Sindall as well as the architectural vision delivered by the whole design team. Given the economic climate, and the challenges facing universities, this project is likely to be known as a benchmark for the successful transformation of existing buildings.”

Nick Hilton, who led Morgan Sindall’s team on site, said: “The Students’ Union and University were great to work with, and it was essential we maintained good relationships given that we had over 130 people working on an in-use building, with very limited time. We are delighted that the client is happy with the end result and that the effort has been recognised by this award.”

The Percy Gee building houses the University's Students' Union along with other University services, and has been transformed from a building with 35 different floor levels into a state-of-the-art facility. The ambitious redesign has changed the Percy Gee into a thriving multi-purpose Union building at the entrance to the campus.

A stunning new central atrium bathed in natural light and incorporating a social meeting place forms the centrepiece of the new development. It includes a new terrace with panoramic views over the City, new Activities Resources Centre and new restaurant called ‘1923’ after the year the Students’ Union was founded. The building also boasts numerous environmental features.

The basement houses a new live music and club venue, the Leicester O2 Academy, with capacity for 1,750 people. The upper levels incorporate new shops and improved Accommodation Agency, Welfare Advice Service and Education Unit, amongst other facilities.

The Percy Gee Project has already won the 2010 Leicester Civic Society Award for Architecture complementing the Historic Built Environment of the City of Leicester, and recently won an Insider Media Design Excellence Award to add to its impressive trophy cabinet.

Professor Helen Atkinson, Chair of the Percy Gee project redevelopment team, said: “We are really thrilled to receive these awards which commend the high standards of design, construction and workmanship by our architects Shepheard Epstein Hunter and our contractor Morgan Sindall.

“We took into account students’ views throughout the planning of this development and their needs and expectations have shaped the physical development of the space. Ultimately, we have a building that is fit for purpose now and for the future.”