£35m proposed university student centre reaches planning milestone

Plans for a new Student Centre at the University of York have been lodged with York City Council.

Co-designed by ADP Architecture and O’Donnell + Tuomey, the building is intended to offer a landmark arrival point on Campus West.

The £35m building will offer a variety of spaces for student use. These will include events and flat floor spaces, collaborative study areas, studios for student radio and TV, as well as a new home for both the university’s student unions and frontline student support services.

There will also be places to eat and drink and a rooftop garden and the building will be surrounded by landscaped gardens.

It is hoped, following the planning permission process, that building work will begin in the spring of 2024, with students able to access and use the new facilities in the 2025/26 academic year.

The building will be constructed largely from natural materials and renewable sources, including reconstituted stone with plans for solar panels, rooflights and solar controlled glazing.

Planning approval has already been granted for the demolition of some existing vacant buildings to make way for the centre and this work will start later in the spring.

Professor Tracy Lightfoot, pro vice chancellor for teaching, learning and students, at University of York, said: “In the last year we have spent a lot of time engaging and listening to our students to ensure the plans truly reflect what they want, and need, from a building like this.

“The spaces have been adapted to fit their feedback and we will continue to do this throughout the rest of the process.

“Our iconic new Student Centre promises to be a fantastic asset to our students, the university and the local community.”

Helen O’Curry, director at ADP Architecture, said: “We are very proud to be working alongside the University of York and partnering with O’Donnell + Toumey to design and deliver this exciting project.

“The Student Centre is a key strategic intervention into the wonderful York campus landscape.

“Located between iconic structures on the campus, the centre creates a visible and welcoming gateway to the university, providing significant public realm and dedicated student facilities.”

John Tuomey, of O’Donnell and Tuomey, the design-lead architects, added: “The University of York Student Centre will be a singular structure, a flexible plan with interconnecting multifunctional spaces, with a south facing winter garden and a walled orchard garden on the roof.

“The architectural form, embodying principles of environmental responsibility, responds to the visual patterns of York Minster and is consistent with material characteristics of the university campus.”