The University of Leeds Council has given the go ahead to a £7.5 million project that will see climate and environmental research expanding into bespoke spaces in the Staff Centre building.
The building will undergo a 13 month major works programme to convert the existing undercroft area and level 10 of the listed structure into modern premises for the Priestley International Centre for Climate and parts of the School of Earth and Environment (SEE). Work will begin in September 2017 and the renamed “Priestley Building” will be fully operational by October 2018.
The move has been made necessary by the growth of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, launched formally in June 2016, and the scale of academic development in SEE, which has made securing new space a priority. Leeds’ research leads the UK for environmental impact; having additional dedicated space in which this can flourish will ensure SEE and Priestley remain at the forefront for impact and deliver research targets.
The investment will enable the Priestley Centre to grow and build on its reputation, providing offices for academic chairs, University Academic Fellowships, PhD students and administrative support staff. The airy open-plan design of level 10, which will see a mezzanine reinstated, will provide vibrant interdisciplinary meeting and tutorial space that will be used to host academic visitors and external partners, strengthening partnerships and executive education opportunities.
The School of Earth and Environment already accommodates a portfolio of prestigious national research centres and the Priestley Building will permit more room for some of these, notably through a Met Office Joint Research Unit.
Professor Andy Dougill, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment, said: “The strong support from the University Council will provide vibrant collaborative space where Priestley Centre members can thrive and exciting new cross-Faculty bids can be developed”.
Professor Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, said: “This is brilliant news. It is great to have this University support that will help take the centre to the next level, attracting the brightest and best students and staff from around the world to work with the great minds already working on climate solutions across the University”
The Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, who launched the Priestley International Centre for Climate, pointed out the “huge educational dividends” for students and said the centre was a natural extension of the world leading climate research conducted at Leeds. “The aim is to promote interdisciplinary research of the highest standard on climate and to be considering always its impact on nature and society”.