What do you think about our plans so far?
Both the overall design for the Union Upgrade and the final project plan are really starting to take shape. We’re still some way off finalising precisely what will happen when, but with every passing week the plans are growing more and more detailed and closer to something which can go out to tender.
Last month, a number of exciting new artist’s impressions were unveiled by DLA Architects, including ones of the brand new foyer area. I encourage everyone to take a look at these and give us your comments. These images show what kinds of finishes we’re looking at and demonstrate the feeling we’d like to create in our new spaces. They’re not set in stone – your feedback could still make a difference, so use the ‘email’ icon in the bottom right corner to send us a message, or join the Union Upgrade Facebook group.
One of the design challenges we’ve been facing recently is ensuring the performance and changing areas at the stage level of the Riley Smith are fully accessible. Although there are several levels in a confined space, access will be achieved through a new platform lift and ramp to the changing rooms at the rear of the stage.
Another exciting opportunity announced last month was a new kind of enterprise where the Mezz currently sits, in the space above the Refectory. This area has been made available by our partners in the University Commercial Services team and we’re really excited about the potential student engagement we can generate from this new operation. Our aspiration is that a graduate internship will be created, supervising other students to design and service an operation which fully embodies our values.
As we moved into this month, we kicked off our latest audit under the Green Impact Scheme. Previously, we’ve been rated Gold, but improving our environmental sustainability is still a key objective in the Union Upgrade plans. The current practice we follow has just been audited under Waste, Water and Energy Management. We get those results back by the summer – we’ll use them to continue to improve our practice and hopefully generate new ideas for our building plans.
As part of our green initiatives, our new Roof Garden (launched last month) is continuing to develop nicely. It’s great to see volunteers already making use of the space, and it was a great feature at the recent Student Sustainability Summit we hosted on behalf of NUS.
Meanwhile, the Commercial Team over at the University have been incredibly helpful as we devise ways to maintain current activity during the construction phases of the project. This year, the “Riley’s” were staged in the University’s Refectory for the first time. This demonstrates the kind of performance area we can set up in that space.
We’re hoping to be granted access to a variety of University spaces to do more activity around campus during the disruption. It remains a key concern that the student activity programme is maintained at a high level during the Union Upgrade project.