Willmott Dixon wins fourth University of Warwick job

20 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Willmott Dixon has won a fourth scheme for the University of Warwick, after it was awarded a £33m deal to completely upgrade the Warwick Arts Centre.

The venue is due to be completed in early 2021, in time for Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.

In addition to an upgrade of the existing building, the Warwick Arts Centre project, designed by Bond Bryan and project managed by Turner & Townsend, involves the addition of a new-build that houses three HD digital auditoria, a large ground floor gallery to exhibit contemporary art, sculpture and photography, plus a spacious new foyer.

The erection of a steel frame, which will see 2,700 pieces put in place over a 12-14 week period to form the gallery and three cinemas, will be one of the most complex elements of the scheme.

Willmott Dixon has committed to investing in local social projects during the construction, including work experience placements and school engagement to the equivalent of £2.1m.

The contractor has already delivered the award-winning Oculus Building in 2016 at the university, and more recently the Sports and Wellness Hub earlier this year, before being appointed for the £54.3m Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB scheme) in September.

Willmott Dixon manager director in the Midlands Peter Owen said: “By creating large and more modern space for the university to continue its creative, artistic and cultural programmes, this investment will also ensure the University of Warwick is home to the region’s leading cultural centre, something that is very important for Coventry as well as the university.

“One of the biggest challenges we will face is that the centre will remain open throughout the duration of the build, continuing to provide audiences with a full programme of events with shows taking place both inside the venue and in an onsite temporary theatre.”

The Warwick Arts Centre project has been awarded £4.2m in National Lottery funding from Arts Council England and was procured by Willmott Dixon through Procurement Hub.

James Breckon, director of estates at the University of Warwick, said: “We are very pleased that Arts Council England has shown its commitment to this venture and our ongoing partnership. Tens of thousands of people from across Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond value Warwick Arts Centre as a key part of their cultural and social life – we expect to see this increase dramatically during Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2021.”

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