GRAHAM Construction completes major upgrade on UCL’s Kathleen Lonsdale Building

GRAHAM Construction has completed work on University College London’s (UCL) Kathleen Lonsdale Building, with a construction value of £14 million. Located on Gower Place in King’s Cross, it is one of the first major projects to complete as part of the university’s £1.2 billion ‘Transforming UCL’ capital programme.

Named after Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, an Irish Crystallographer who was the first woman to be elected to the Royal Society of London in 1945, the building was originally constructed in 1915 as the first purpose-built chemistry building for UCL but has become fragmented in recent years because of ad hoc works.

In 2015, UCL appointed GRAHAM Construction and architect Levitt Bernstein to carry out extensive upgrade works and transform the building into a cutting-edge laboratory, learning and research facility. The newly refurbished building now accommodates the entire Earth Sciences department, open plan offices, a shared studio space called ‘Hubs’, and a variety of breakout areas. Other improvements have been made to teaching, research and social learning spaces for the existing Chemistry group, an Astro Physics departments and a new Radio-chemistry GMP suite as well as the Faculty Office.

The original form, spaces and features of the Grade II Listed building have been carefully restored where possible to preserve its historic character, while new layouts have been introduced within the building to create high quality workspaces with modern facilities to support learning.

Detailed phasing was adopted throughout the project, with the programme broken down into five main phases and sixteen sub-phases which enabled the building to remain in use throughout the construction period.

Owing to the university’s heritage status, attaining higher sustainability standards was also challenging but the team achieved a 23% reduction in overall carbon emissions. This was achieved by incorporating natural ventilation to all non-technical spaces and using sustainable materials. At completion, 96% of construction waste was recycled, recording 385 below the industry recommended target, and is on target to be awarded a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.

UCL’s Director of Estates Development, Kevin Argent said:

“As part of the Transforming UCL £1.2bn capital programme, UCL Estates have refurbished and restored the historic features of the building respecting the original design. New layouts have opened up spaces to create high quality workspaces with modern facilities, sensitively blending the old and new. The project has also delivered a substantial improvement in the environmental performance of the building with much reduced energy consumption and natural ventilation in many areas. I am delighted with the finish and quality of what’s been delivered by the project team”

GRAHAM Construction’s London office director, Rob Joyce said:

“The Kathleen Lonsdale Building is a renowned building that has become somewhat tired over the years, but this transformation has brought it back into the 21stcentury with intelligent design, construction and collaboration. We worked closely with UCL throughout the programme to ensure that the space was maximised in terms of efficiency, while taking care to restore the building’s period features that evoke so much of its history. The result is a building that essentially blends old with new and repositions it as a leading facility for education once again.”