Students, staff and visitors have noticed significant changes in ECA’s physical environment recently.
Phase 1 of the refurbishment of the Main Building, focussed on the north side, finished in September 2017 in time for Welcome Week, with work now switched to the south (inner courtyard) side. The £25 million refurbishment is being undertaken to bring the building up to 21st century standards whilst retaining the unique qualities of the purpose-designed studio spaces. New heating and lighting are now in place on the north side, the original windows have been double-glazed and the original wooden floors, doors and fittings have been cleaned and polished to retain the marks of their history over the past hundred years of use.
The University has taken opportunities to upgrade for the future too, with one of the largest photovoltaic arrays in Scotland now in place on the roof, alongside new lead work and an overhauled internal roof structure.
The first phase of work has also encompassed the creation of a new multi-purpose space named the West Court in the west wing of the Main Building. Originally an outdoor courtyard mirroring the Sculpture Court in size, this space has been designed for flexible uses from exhibition to performance, and is currently acting as our Main Lecture Theatre during the Phase 2 refurbishment of the building’s south side.
Stuart Bennett, Acting ECA Principal said: "The redevelopment of existing iconic spaces alongside the creation of new facilities is a balance between retaining the heritage of the buildings and reinterpreting the needs of the future. The investment in our estates will result in outstanding provision at Lauriston for all our subject areas.’
The Fire Station on Lauriston Place is also providing a new office and teaching context for colleagues and students, with the Engine House already having hosted group events and part of the Edinburgh Art Festival over August. The acquisition of the Fire Station, alongside continuing investment in Chambers Street and in facilities at Alison House, is allowing ECA to move ahead with estates work and planning. These plans will see the complete re-opening of the Main Building in 18 months’ time, followed by the next phase of investment and works towards our goal of bringing all of our disciplines together on one enhanced site.
Gary Jebb, the University of Edinburgh's Director of Estates, said: "I’m delighted that Phase I of the ECA main building refurbishment works have been completed on schedule. Investing in our estate will enhance the student experience and allow us to create a world-class teaching and learning environment which match expectations and responds flexibly to changing student and staff needs".