Wolfson Centre’s £15.5m refurbishment transforms facilities for biomedical engineers

The Wolfson Building

The University of Strathclyde has completed the £15.5million redevelopment of the Wolfson Centre – believed to be the first dedicated biomedical engineering building in the world.

The Wolfson Centre is home to the Department of Biomedical Engineering, one of the oldest seats of biomedical education and research in the world and rated first in the UK for Medical Technology in four of the past five years by the Complete University Guide.

The building has undergone a complete refurbishment in its laboratory, teaching and office spaces with the transformation supported by £1.7m in donations from friends, supporters and alumni of Strathclyde.

Unique façade 

Originally constructed in 1972, the five-storey Category-B listed Modernist building designed by Morris and Steedman has a unique façade featuring ribbed chevron-shaped reinforced-concrete cladding panels.

The exterior remains virtually unchanged, save for the cleaning of the distinctive cladding and the addition of an extension containing a stairwell and lift which will allow capacity of the building to be increased.

Inside, however, the project has created: new, high-quality research and teaching laboratories; modern, flexible learning spaces; increased office accommodation; and, new social spaces for students.

Low energy lighting with automated controls, new heating and ventilation systems and connection to the University’s District Energy network will provide energy efficient heating and hot water.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The Wolfson Centre refurbishment is just one of the projects that is helping transform our campus into a working and learning environment for the 21st century as part of an overall £1bn investment.

The re-imagined building will greatly enhance the student experience and the new laboratories will be valuable assets to our world-leading researchers in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“By refurbishing the existing building we have been able to put sustainability at the heart of the project, minimising the use of new materials, incorporating recycled and carbon-neutral material and installing various energy efficiency measures.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our generous donors for £1.7m that was secured towards the project. Our staff and students are really looking forward to moving back in and making the most of the new facilities.”

Medical technologies

Professor Stuart Reid, Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, said: “We are extremely excited to start reoccupying the newly transformed Wolfson Building. When the original Wolfson opened in 1972, it was the first of its kind, being the first dedicated biomedical engineering building in the world.

“Thanks to our donors and campus investment, we repeat this in 2021 with state-of-the-art teaching spaces and specialised teaching laboratories, alongside cutting-edge research facilities. Our staff and students are ideally placed to benefit from these new facilities, to continue to support improved health outcomes and medical technologies for society through our transformative training programs and research activities.”

The refurbishment of the building was carried out by Kier Construction and as part of the Strathclyde Commitment, the project saw five new entrants/graduates employed and 10 apprenticeships created.