Lancaster University Engineering Building, Lancaster

Strategy and quality set it apart

· Credit: Nick Gutteridge

John McAslan + Partners for Lancaster University

GIA: 4,701m²

Contract value: £8.4m

Sustainability Award

Project Architect of the Year (Paul Hughes, John McAslan + Partners)

The precise grid of this building is extended into a full height entrance portal, much needed on this tightly planned campus. Behind it, at a similar scale, is the impressive atrium sandwiched between two conventional framed slab blocks. 

  • · Credit: Nick Gutteridge
  • · Credit: Nick Gutteridge
  • · Credit: Nick Gutteridge
  • · Credit: Nick Gutteridge
  • · Credit: Nick Gutteridge

Two blocks of engineering laboratories and workshops interspersed with staff offices and computer suites are brought to life by the atrium which makes it a vibrant self-aware educational experience akin to a science museum for students, staff and visitors. Glass walls between the labs and public areas may at first have seemed alien to teaching staff, but show how early strategy and a persuasive committed architect can result in a brave decision and a fine building.

The jury admired the careful detailing, typical of the practice, but thought it was the strategy and quality that set it apart. There is also a logic to services distribution in science buildings which encourages verticality. The influence of Louis Khan’s 1965 Richards Medical Research on this treatment can be detected, the strategy pursued in a subtle integrated way. 

See other winners in the RIBA Regional Awards 2015 – North West