Folklore Campus Building Construction

``York is architecturally the most interesting of the new universities''

The Spectator, Spring 1964


Other buildings with their own pages:

* Heslington Hall
* King's Manor
* York city centre buildiings


From the University News Sheet Issue 190 (October 1986):
Knighthood for University Architect
Andrew Derbyshire of Messrs Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, the University architects, has received a knighthood in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Concrete buildings

One of the most noticeable features of the York Campus is the way all the original buildings are made of prefabricated slabs of concrete. The building design is known as C.L.A.S.P., and was specially developed for the York Campus.

Two main reasons have been given for adopting the prefabricated building style at York. Firstly, the campus was to be built as quickly as possible. (The University was only founded in 1963, yet the first students started in 1964, with building work still going strong.) Secondly, there was not a large skilled labour force available in York to build a conventional style of building. It was calculated that building the University would need some 700 men, about 20% of the York labour force at the time. (There was also apparently a national shortage of bricks in the early 60's, and it is possible that shallower foundations are needed with CLASP - worth considering since the ground is very marshy.)

The CLASP system was first developed by local authorities who needed to build school buildings as quickly and cheaply as possible. The first building in York to be built using CLASP was the `New' building in Heslington Village. This had wooden cladding of the external walls.

CLASP (Consortium of Local Authorities' Special Programme) was based on a steel frame with cladding panels, and flat roofs. The design allowed production of components that could quickly be erected on site, whilst enabling flexibility of design, and changes during the lifetime of the building.

Before any major building work was done, the design of the system was improved. The main difference is the use of prefabricated concrete cladding panels, which significantly increased the durability and fire-resistance of the design. Contrary to campus folklore, there is no life expectancy of the panels, and they have been found to be relatively cheap to maintain and easily adaptable over the past 30 years. Properly maintained, the buildings should last as long as any other. It would have been possible to make the concrete panels in different colours to add variety, but it was cheaper and quicker to have them all the same.

There are a number of stages of development of the CLASP system in the University. Derwent, Langwith and Chemistry are built from Mark III; Alcuin and Vanbrugh from Mark IIIb; Goodricke and Biology from Mark IV; and Wentworth (1970) from Mark V.

Although visually similar to the rest of the old colleges, parts of Wentworth college is built using conventional methods, with load-bearing internal walls. This is because at the time these parts were built (1975), there was not enough money to build it using the more flexible CLASP methods.

Since the late 70's, buildings have been constructed of more traditional materials. (Individual items such as Central Hall and the Concert Hall have also had their own designs.) By the Development Review in 1985, only 55% of buildings on campus were built of CLASP materials.

Sources: Nouse Issue 10 (Thur 28th Oct 1965), University Development Plan, University Development Plan Review.

There's a book on CLASP in King's Manor Library, but it covers later development techniques than those used at York.

The `New' Building

The `New' Building (yes, that is how it is written on the sign outside) is in Heslington Village, just before you get to the Charles when coming from campus. It was the first building to be built for the University, dating from 1962 (?). It was needed to supplement the only other teaching accomodation on campus, the converted Heslington Hall, which did not contain any large rooms suitable for lectures. The `New' Building was built from the original prefabricated CLASP system, and was erected in just 5 months.

The `New' Building is now home to the Norwegian Studies Institute.

For a while before the existence of the Science Park, this building effectively served some of the same functions as the innovation centre - a number of high-tech startup companies, mostly spinoffs from the university, were based there including York Software Engineering, Hand Whittington and Associates and HCI.

Central Hall

I think the best thing to do here is quote from Nouse No. 18 (Thursday, 23rd June 1966):

Central Hall Plans Finalised

Plan for the Central Hall have now been finalised and were recently open to inspection. The hall, which should be open by the end of 1968, is planned as being one of the focal points of the university and for this reason its site will be at the centre of the colleges, when they are completed. Its position between college five and Langwith will be on a promontory position jutting into the lake , it will then be artificially surrounded by the lake by the formation of a pool behind the building.

The hall is to be used for such functions as dances, ballet, and theatre productions, although preference is to be given to lectures and to examinations. It is already tentatively booked for five or six conferences.

Architecturally, the exterior of the building has what might be described as a strong nautical flavour, as it does not look unlike the superstructure of an aircraft carrier, made of concrete. The roof of the building is to be made of copper or aluminum (depending on the current price of copper) and there is to be a `spire' which will be held to the roof by guy ropes, these being partially to hold the structure together. There are to be balconies and paved ways around the building overlooking the lake.

The foyer is to be built underneath the main stage area and it will additionally be used as an exhibition space. A rehearsal room, lecture theatre, debating chamber and robing room are also to be added. The full capacity of the hall will be 1,250, although by a system of curtaining the size may be reduced, so that the tiering around the sides may be screened off.

The list of rooms to be added at the bottom is quite impressive and would take up as much room as the hall itself. As far as we know none of these were built, has anyone been backstage?

The article was accompanied by photos of the architect's model of the completed building, which as far as we can tell is exactlyhow it was built.

The acoustics have always been described as `dry' because of it's intended uses, and some experiments have been made to improve them. An artificial resonance system was installed, the same design was used in the Festival Hall in London - the tubes hanging from the gantries above the audience are Helmholtz resonators. More recently, the Arts Council funded the installation of a canopy over the stage with a reflector incorporated - sadly it is not really in the right place as it would block the projector, and a movable reflector was too expensive.


The J B Morrell library is named after a founding father of the University, John Bowes Morrell.

The original campus development plan was hoping for a more impressive building than the one that was built - constructed on a terrace projecting from the hillside over a large car park on two levels, including various social facilities. The building would have formed a bridge over University Road.

The library was built as part of Phase 3 of the original university development plan, and was completed in June 1966. The structure is precast concrete. The library was extended in 1987 at the back, providing more space for books and students. A further extension is now (1999) being planned.

The internal design has been criticised since it was built. The open staircase in the middle, together with the use of hard materials such as ceramic tiles, makes the library a noisy place in which to work. When first built the issues desk was on the first floor, directly above it's current position. This created so much noise that a canopy had to be provided above it, which is still there.

The roof of the original building was replaced in 1992/3 due to disintegration of the original asphalt and chipboard flat roof.


From 1966, Godfrey's had a small shop within the library. The current bookshop was built by them in 1978. The sign on the library pointing to Godfrey's lasted many years after the shop was changed to Blackwells.


The Physics building is one of the more prominent buildings on campus, and unfortunately is also one of the most ugly. Once again, a quote from Nouse, this time Thurs, May 11 1967:

Million Pound Fun Palace for Physicists

By November of this year York's physicists will have moved from the temporary home in the chemistry laboratories and into their own labs. across the lake from the central hall. The new buildings, costing nearly a million pounds, have been built with full consultation between the architects and Prof O S Heavens, the head of the physics department.

Great efforts have been made to produce a versatile building; none of the internal walls support the roof, so if a larger area of space is needed it can be obtained by knocking down a few walls. The research wings can be extended by simply removing the clasp walls and building outwards.

The presence of vibration in the chemistry labs, makes them far from ideal for physics, which often involves highly sensitive apparatus. In the new labs the effects of vibration have been considerably reduced by building the research wings on foundations of solid concrete. The machine shop is built on a raft of concrete set in cork to prevent the transmission of vibrations to other parts of the building. Specially sensitive instruments will be mounted on concrete pillars set deep into the earth.

One of the wings will be air-conditioned; this air-conditioning being part of a Helium recovery plant. Any helium vapour which enters the air in this wing will be collected by the air-conditioning. The cost of the plant will be covered over time because although the amount of helium in the atmosphere is minute, it is a highly expensive gas. £20000 has gone towards the building of a room lined with copper. This copper provides a shield from stray electric fields such as radio waves.

The last job of the contractors will be to cut away the arch from the front of the building, which will leave the flying wing lecture theatre jutting dramatically out over the lake.

As far as is known, the helium plant was never built (Mike Page-Jones reports that it did exist, but was shutdown sometime after the electronics departments' creation (ie late 70's) due to tightening of safety regulations -- It'd be nice to hear this from someone that was around at the time).

The Physics Department Newsheet 4, 29 March 1984 has this short article

The Name Game

The Physics building is now shared by two departments and, in some ways, it is unfortunate for our Electronics colleagues that they are in the Electronics Department in the Physics building. The situation can be made better for them, and prehaps a little more interesting for us, if the building had a name so that, for example, the Departments of Electronics and Physics were situated in the ``X building'' where X was some suitable name.

If a suitable name can be found then it could be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor and/or Council for approval. I invite members of both departments to submit suggestions for a name to me by the end of April 1984. A small committee will then be set up, with representatives of both departments, to select the most appropriate name from those submitted. For the person suggesting this name, whether or not it is finally approved, there will be a prize of a bottle of whiskey.

Prof Woolfson

The official name of the Physics building changed to the Physics and Electronics Building in 1986.

Some extensions have been made to the sides of the building, notably the Electronics Workshop during 1996. An even cheaper way of doing this is to add Portakabins to the outside. Also today (3/9/96) workmen are busy knocking a wall down inside, to make one room into two.

In 1993 the concourse area was extended by the Conference Office. The following item appeared in the News Sheet (December 1992):

Waterfront exhibition area planned

The University's lack of a large indoor space for major exhibitions is set to end with a new extension to the concourse area in the Physics and Electronics Building. The single storey extension will extend the perimeter of the existing concourse and P/X001, P/L001 and P/L002 and moving it nearer the lake. This will increase the concourse's current gross area of 500 square metres to 900 square metres.

Many conference organisers hold exhibitions as part of their programme. The new concourse will mean that the University may attract new conference clients and also that the marquees and pavillions erected from time to time over the summer should become a thing of the past. There will be room for 60 to 65 stands in the new concourse but flexible screening means that the area will have the potential to become several exhibition areas or a mixture of teaching and exhibition rooms.

During term time the new extension will result in three new teaching spaces: a computing area for the Electronics Department and two centrally timetabled rooms for teaching; and a reception and lounge area for departments.

The plans also incorporate a number of other features: a larger, permanent home for the Vickers Collection; a seminar room; the replacement of the snack bar by vending machines under the main staircase; improvements to the entrance from Goodricke College; a public address system for conference visitors; the enlargement of the Porters' Lodge; additional card and cash telephones; enlargements to the Senior Common Room; the filling-in of the stepping stones across the lake to allow wheelchair access; the probability of a glazed screen around the first floor mezzanine which will reduce noise and smoke levels.

Work will begin on the extension in June 1993 and is is expected to be finished by the end of the summer vacation. During the summer temporary footpaths will be laid from Central Hall and Goodricke College to the teaching block of the Physics/Electronics building. In the meantime enquiries about the extension should be directed to the following people: Alan Strong (computer classroom/mezzanine/common room); John Nash (two teaching rooms); Roy Whitaker (catering); Harry Milner (Porters' Lodge); Richard Hainsworth (exhibition space).

Architects' plans giving detailed information on the extension are currently on display in the Physics/Electronics building.

The extension work included the enlargement of the Senior Common Room; enclosure of the first floor mezzanine; modification of the Ladies toilets; adding wooden panels to the central staircase; and putting a new fire exit staircase to P/X001.

The concourse was opened on 4th October 1993 by the Chancellor, Dame Janet Baker.

In 1998, plans are afoot for the University to remove the central stairs and fill in the mezzanine to provide office and lab space. This will enable the conference office to make more use of the room currently used as the Electronics computer room.


The Department of Physics observatory is in the middle of a field behind the sports centre. The grand opening was reported in the November 1993 University Magazine:

The Chancellor opens the Observatory...

The day was wet and windy, the ground a muddy bog, but the occasion was a happy celebration of success. Protected by wooden pallets underfoot and armed with comforting mulled wine, guests of the Physics Department joined the Chancellor and the Astronomer Royal, Professor Arnold Wolfendale, in the opening of the University's Observatory on 2 December.

The small neat building is deceptive. It has two storeys, a revolving roof and a 14 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescope mounted on a massive equatorial fork mounting. This observatory has been built to professional standards and will enable Physics students and staff to carry out astronomical teaching and research.

The Astronomer Royal praised the Observatory and commented on the success of Astronomy in the north of England over the centuries, including that of John Goodricke. ``Some of our ideas are right too, aren't they Michael?'' he said to Professor Michael Woolfson. They both shook their heads.

The Chancellor expressed thanks to the many local firms, including Ibstock Brick Ltd, Bovis Construction Ltd, William Birch and Sons Ltd and Whitby Oliver and Sons Ltd, for the gift of materials and labour for the Observatory.

That done, guests had the chance to see through the telescope for themselves.

The top dome of the observatory is floating on a water tank, to allow it to be turned round easily. There is no heating in the dome, since the rising hot air could distort the telescope's view.


The new electronics building, next to the car park, was built in 1987/8. The following article appeared in the University News Sheet, Issue 195 (June 1987):
New Building for Electronics

This autumn the Department of Electronics will be increasing its annual intake of undergraduates from 45 to 70, and there will be a corresponding increase in the number of staff. New undergraduate courses are bwing planned in Avionics and in Physical Electronics, the latter in conjunction with the Department of Physics.

Since this expansioino cannot be accomodated in the present Physics and Electronics Building, a new building is about to be constructed alongside it, as shown in the diagram. [This may follow later. www] Most of the space in this new building will be occupied by the following three Electronics groups which need facilities that cannot be provided satisfactorily in the old building and which now have laboratories specially designed for them:

  1. the Microelectronic Devices Research Group, which will have a clean room for fabricating micro-electronic devices;
  2. the Electromagnetic Compatibility Group, which will have a screened room for research on electrical interference; and
  3. the Electronics Centre, which undertakes design and development work for industrial firms, particularly in the York area.

Moving the three groups into the new building will free space in the old building to accomodate the additional undergraduates and staff, and to allow some expansion of other research groups. The self-financing Electronics Centre will be paying for the part of the building it will occupy, and the rest of the building is being financed by the University, with the aid of a £40,000 grant from the UGC.

The project has been designed by the University's architects, RMJM London Ltd., in association with the University's Services Engineer. The quantity surveyors are Messrs. Franklin and Andrews.

As shown in the diagram, the new building is to be situated to the west of the Physics and Electronics Building at the end of the wings, in such a way that two new courtyards are created. Its gross area will be approximately 750 m². The plan is organised around a corridor, running north/south with large laboratories to the west side and TSO's and small labs on the east. The Electronics Centre is to the south of the main entrance and reception area.

The main entrance will face west to the car park and is to be marked by a lattice tower. This supports the entrance canopy and will be topped by disk aerials.

The building is to be single storey, brick faced with a low pitch aluminum roof. At the south end there will be an area of flat roof where dish aerials will be mounted. The structure will be steel framed with partitions of dry construction.

Work on the main contract will start late September 1987, and will be completed in April 1988. There will be some preliminary work undertaken in July in order to divert existing services.

The details of the scheme, for which planning permission is being sought, will be considered by Estates and Buildings Committee on 30 June. The plans will be displayed in the Physics and Electronics Building during July.

Greville Bloodworth, Electronics Department
Geoffrey Williams, Bursar's Department


One of the first buildings on Campus, originally all science departments were there.

There is a plaque on A block which has the following text:

ON 22 OCTOBER 1965

Chemistry is perhaps best known for the large water tower in the middle of it.

Part of the building was extensively damaged by fire in 1980.

B block was extended in the summer of 1993 (by filling in what were garages) to provide extra teaching space. The C block labs were also refurbished at the time, to make research labs.


The main architectural feature of the biology buildings is the tall clock tower, with it's single face pointing towards (most) of campus.

The building was damaged by a serious firein 1973.

The Institute of Applied Biology, started in 1986 in the biology department, moved to it's own buildings on 6 November 1989. Money for the buildings came from the University and from Rowntree plc.

The Department of Biology Cancer Research Unit has the following plaque on it's wall:

These laboratories were given to
the University of York
by the
Yorkshire Cancer Research Campaign
on 13 May 1980

A new set of labs was built during 1994, as reported by the November 1994 issue of University Magazine:

Professor Jo Milner and her research team have just moved in to their new cell biology laboratory, in the ground floor of a new biology laboratory complex. Their research has led to important understanding of the cancer growth suppressing function of a protein called p53. The Yorkshire Cancer Research Campaign, which funds Professor Milner's Chair and supports the team's work in other ways, donated £400,000 towards the cost of the laboratory.

Another greenhouse-type extension has been built during 1996, at first floor level on the part of the old building nearest the plant lab.

Plant Lab

One of the most distinctive buildings on campus, the Biology Plant Lab was opened in 1995, as reported in the June 1995 University Magazine:

Importance of plant biology heralded by laboratory opening

The official opening of the University's Plant Laboratory takes place on Friday 2 June.

The laboratories have been purpose built to accommodate the University's rapidly expanding plant science research base. The recent appointment of a number of new researchers combined with existing strengths has resulted in an impressive concentration of expertise in molecular plant science.

Research in the new laboratories is aimed at understanding fundamental aspects of plant biology such as how plants recognise and respond to environmental stimuli like wounding, nutrient stress, drought and shade.

Since we rely heavily on plants for basic necessities like clean air, food, clothing and shelter, is is essential that we understand more about plant biology.

``The Plant Laboratory provides an environment for a multi-disciplinary group of enthusiastic and imaginative young scientists to work together,'' says Professor Dianna Bowles. ``Increasingly, we are working with other specialist groups on campus and with researchers in industry on novel ideas in plant biology that will ultimately lead to new products in the market place.

The plant research initiative has already been highly successful. The new building houses nine research groups comprising some 50 scientists. The research income generated by York plant biologists has come to over £3m in the last year alone.

Funding has come from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The Royal Society, The Wolfson Foundation and from leading UK companies including Zeneca, Glaxo, SmithKline Beecham, AgrEvo and Unilever.

New links are being established with a number of European and US industries.

The Plant Laboratory opening will be celebrated on a day on International Science Lectures by some of the world's leading plant biologists. They include Professor Keith Roberts of the John Innes Centre, Professor Ramon Serrano of the University of Valencia, Professor Jeff Schell of the Max Plank Institute fur Zuchtungsforschung, and Professor Tom Blundell FRS, of Birkbeck College.


Psychology used to live above Wentworth A block, which is attached to the rest of Wentworth by the glass-stairs thing in the air. Plans were made for their own building in 1974, when the department was first formed, but due to government cutbacks it was never built. Construction of their new building started in 1993, with Phase 1 complete in January 1994. The University Magazine (February 1994) reported on Phase 1:

Psychology's new home

At the end of January the University took possession of the first phase of the new home for the Psychology Department. Having languished for nearly 20 years buried in converted study bedrooms in Wentworth College, the Department asked architects Hunt Thompson Associates for a building with its own distinct identity. Now that the building is completed we can see how well they have satisfied this brief. Within a very tight budget the architects have given us a new building of real interest of which even our last Vice-Chancellor would be proud of!

The exterior is dominated by the circular tower (with its distinctive spiral brickwork) which houses the main stairs, lift and provides circulation space. It also forms the link to Phase 2 of the building, due to rise from the mud later in the year. The main block of the building, under a curved roof, houses many of the facilities needed by the growing number of Psychology undergraduates - a large, computer-based teaching laboratory, workshops, test library and the departmental office - but rather little space for staff and their research groups. Only four members of the 14 strong lecturing staff are moving their research laboratories into this first phase of the building.

The realisation of this building and the allocation of funds for phase 2 brings closer the day when all of the 5-star rated Psychology Department will be under one roof and the Department's long quest for a home will be over.

The commencement of Phase 2 was mentioned in University Magazine November 1994:

Work begins on second phase of Psychology building

Phase two of the Psychology Department building will be constructed by local company William Birch and Sons.
The contract, worth £903,000, began in October and will finish in Sepember 1995. The building will provide new lecture and seminar rooms for undergraduate teaching and specialised laboratory space for the Department's research groups.
To make life easier for pedestrians during construction, a new floodlit pathway leading across the front of Psychology to the Sports Centre, has been built adjacent to the road which construction vehicles will use.
Phase o nen of the new departmental building was completed in January. With the completion of Phase two, staff and students in one of Britain's most successful Psychology Departments will finally be together on one site.

The final completion was described in the March 1996 issue of University Magazine:

Fanfare for Psychology Opening

On 17 February, the Psychology Department celebrated the opening of its new building. Dame Janet Baker unveiled the plaque and trumpeters assembled on the tower of the building blasted out a fanfare as the Department's own flag was hoisted to flutter above the campus.

Over £2 million has been invested in the new building, which was designed by architects Hunt Thompson Associates and constructed in two phases.

Members of the Department and illustrious guests then gathered in the teaching laboratory to hear the distinguished psychologist, Professor Wichard Gregory, who is Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at Bristol University, deliver an excellent lecture entitled `Why Psychology is Special'.

The celebrations continued with refreshments and tours of the research laboratories for the visitors.

The Department has waited a long time for its own building. Student numbers have climbed rapidly in recent years. The annual intake of around 40 in 1989 has grown to over 100 in 1995. On average 125 applications are made for every place. Its popularity with students coupled, with its research strength - top rating in all three of the government's research assessment exercises - has made Psychology one of the most successful departments in the University.

Plucked from the obscurity of converted study-bedrooms in Wentworth College, the Department of Psychology can at last enjoy first-rate facilities for its wide range of research groups from human-computer interaction to behavioural neuroscience from dyslexia to psycho-acoustics.

The new Psychology building bears the following plaque:


This item from the July 1996 University Magazine:

University building in national exhibition
The new Psychology building has been selected from over 100 applications to be represented in an exhibition of `Buildings for higher education' organised by the RIBA Architecture Centre and the Higher Education Design Quality Forum.

Sports Centre

The original plans for the Sports Centre were reported in the Thur 10th Feb 1966 issue of Nouse (full quote to follow at some point):

New Sports Centre

The completion date for the first stage of the University of York Sports Centre is now in sight...

The first stage has now been given U.G.C. approval and it is hoped to start on it this summer...

The plan shown includes a swimming pool at one end, 2x large halls, squash courts, then a grandstand at the other end. The first stage, that which was authorised, was a hall and changing rooms.

In 1989, a three-phase improvement plan was started. Extra changing rooms for outside sports were added, and the entrance area was improved with the addition of reception, porters lodge and offices. Work was carried out in three phases, and was finally completed in the Winter 1990/1.

Swimming Pool

The quest for a swimming pool at York has been running for many long years now. More than once it has been announced that building was about to start, such as this article from the University Magazine June 1994:

All set for a splash

Whether you like to pound away at 20 lengths before breakfast, or splash around at your leisure, a quick dash across campus for a swim is about to become a reality.
The University is set to realise a long-held ambition by building a swimming pool. Building work is expected to start this autumn. The pool will cost £750,000 to build and the University already has £350,000 in grants and donations.
The new pool will be situated between the Sport Centre and the Observatory.
There is also a mention of the funding for the pool, in the October 1994 edition of University Magazine:
...Now, at last. we expect to build a swimming pool, thanks to a generous benefaction from Greg Dyke, Politics Department, 1971-74, and a contribution of £100,000 from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts. A pool would serve the daily needs of up to 7,000 staff and students, and some 40,000 visitors each year...

Sadly, staff and students get to stay dry for another year, as the pool has yet to be built. (Running costs are believed to have been the problem.) The following article appeared in the March 1995 University Magazine:

Scheme scuppered
Plans for a swimming pool on campus have been halted after Policy and Resources Committee decided the scheme was too expensive.

(How do you scupper a swimming pool? Oh well. Ed)

Hockey Pitch

The latest addition to the sports facilities at York has been the building of the floodlit astroturf hockey pitch, in the centre of the running track. This was partly funded by Greg Dyke, using the money he had wanted to spend on a swimming pool (see above). The hockey pitches were used from summer 1996, but the official opening was not until November, as described in the December 1996 University Magazine:

Floodlit hockey match launches York's new all-weather pitch

A team of former York students took on the Athletic Union President's side in a floodlit hockey match at the opening of the University's new all-weather pitch on Saturday 30 November.

The pitch was opened by Greg Dyke, Chairman and Chief Executive of Pearson Television. The new facility is designed to complement and enhance local sport provision and provide a much-needed all-year-round pitch.

The £563,000 project includes a floodlit hockey pitch, five changing rooms and car parking. The pitch is available for full-scale hockey matches, five aside football, and practice sessions for other sports.

Floodlighting to enable the pitch to be used all year round is adjustable with high settings for matches, lower settings for training and the ability to light half and one-third areas for small-scale uses, thus saving on energy costs.

The building of the pitch was generously funded by Greg Dyke, a former student of the University, and the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. The pitch will be known as the JLD Hockey Pitch in memory of Greg Dyke's father Joseph Leonard Dyke.

``The pitch is a significant addition to our sports facilities'', said Colin Smith, Director of the Sports Centre. ``Not only will it help us in attracting students to the University, but it is an important part of the region's sports facilities. Current users of the new pitch include York Men's and Ladies' Hockey Clubs, York City Football Club, Fulford School, the University College of Ripon and York St John, St Peter's School and Dunnington Football Club. University hockey is also flourishing as a result of this pitch: we are currently running three men's and two ladies' teams.''


The IRISS buildings are built in the modern campus style of yellow brick and dark tiled roof. Work started in 1988, and is mentioned in the University News Sheet, Issue 200 (May 1988). The total cost of the development was estimated at £1.6m.


The new extension of the Music Department was started in 1991, as described by this article from News Sheet Issue 219 (March 1991):

Work begins on new Music extension

Work has just begun on an unusual new building for the Music Department.

The extension, a single storey building linked to the rest of the Department by a covered way, will curve around to enclose an attractive landscaped area and will incorporate an overlooking glass-windowed corridor. It will be of traditional construction in facing brickwork to harmonise with the existing building and will have a natural slate roof overhanging the eaves level windows to provide sun protection.

The extension will provide additional rehearsal and practice space and will include a small hexagonal auditorium which will mirror the stage area of the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall so that rehearsals can be easily transferred to the main hall. The building will also provide a new home for the south east Asian Gamelan and Pi-phat ensembles.

Mike Nicholas and Rob Marsh of Nicholas Associates are the architects in charge of the building which will be finished in September ready for the new academic year.

The opening was covered by News Sheet in December 1991 (issue 225):

New Music Extension opens

The new extension to the Music Department is up and running. The single-storey building linked to the rest of the Department by a covered way comprises rehearsal and practice space and includes a small hexagonal auditorium which mirrors the stage area of the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall.

It also provides a new home for the Javanese Gamelan and Thai Piphat ensembles.

The building curves around to enclose a small landscaped area and has been built in brick to harmonise with the existing building.

Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall

A concert hall featured in the original development plan, attached to a music department, but could not at first be built to to a lack of money. Sir Jack Lyons donated the £120,000 needed by the University to build the hall, and his wife donated the cost of t he ebest piano that could be found.

The hall seats 500 people, and the stage layout is duplicated by a Music Department practice room.

Computer Science

(Computing Science computer history is on a separate page.

The computer science department has a history of upgrading to new accomodation. Formed in the late 70's out of the computation department, which lived in the two original blocks, the department has had offices in Chemistry, Vanbrugh and X/A block (amongst other places).

The main building (X/D block) went live in '85-ish. This was joined by X/E block in 88 (real-time and high-integrity groups initially), and X/T (portakabin initially used by HISE comp. sci researchers, then ITBML) in '91. This was built right over a water main and had to have a large hole made in its floor, in addition to lacking a toilet. It was a cold and rather bleak place to work. The department kept *nearly* leaving Vanbrugh -- computer architecture group was replaced there by what later became the Intelligent Systems Group. X/U block was added in 1992.

In the courtyard between the old and new buildings there is a large chessboard in the paving stones.

The new building has a weather vane at one end, calibrated in radians rather than the more conventional NESW.

Work is now (Autumn 1996) under way on a still newer building, to go next to the library. Most of the Computer Science buildings will apparently be given to EEMS when the new building near the library is complete. It was mentioned in the February 1996 University Magazine:

Computer Science building to go ahead

Outline planning consent has been given for the new Computer Science Building. All being well, work will begin on the site in June this year. Completion is scheduled for September 1997. Permission has also been given for 17 acres of playing fields to be built on land near the golf club.

You can keep up to date with the construction of the new building, thanks to this link to Computer Science.

The original plan was to build an access road round the back of the library. Plan scrapped, (reason unknown). Instead the current access road for the construction vehicles would be used as the main feed road. So the same single foreman, who is in charge of the construction sight and the road construction had put in the plans/project details that the road would be built, surfaced and completed over a number of weeks. Unfortunately, that time was also the time he had allocated for the moving of the dept, so there was going to be the department, all ready to move into but no road to get to it (they would have to tear up the current access road as it has no drainage.) The problem remains unsolved at this stage, though it looks like they will build a temporary road next to the existing road for the dept to move in, tear up the existing road, resurface it, then remove the temporary road.

University Health Centre

Originally, the University Medical Centre was in converted rooms in Vanbrugh B block, at the corner near X block. It was moved to a purpose-built building, and renamed, in 1994. This article comes from the University Magazine, January 1994:

University Health Centre opens for business

The University's new Health Centre, set between the Physics/Electronics building and the Vice-Chancellor's house, opened on 7 January. The purpose-built Centre has three consulting suites, two treatment rooms, a sick bay with adjoining night nurse accomodation, multi-purpose nurse's interview room and office, a conference room and a spacious waiting room with a welcoming reception area which includes confidential facilities.

``The Centre has been built to our requirements and provides first class facilities on campus for health care,'' said Dr Keith Price. ``There is room for further expansion of services and we have full facilities for the disabled as well as 24 hour nursing cover throughout the week during term. We now have a perfect opportunity to involve the full Primary Health Care Team on campus and, in our role as GP fundholders, we will be able to provide a greater variety of health care services.''

``One of the special things about the Centre is its site,'' said John McNeil of McNeil and Beechey Architects. ``It stands on the edge of the tree nursery overlooking the lake and in the spring the Centre will be surrounded by flowers amongst the trees. The building has been designed to make the most of this wih continuous glazing providing pleasant views from all of the rooms.''

The building has been finished to a high standard on difficult site conditions. ``The builders, William Birch, and their subcontractors are to be congratulated,'' said John McNeil.

University Nursery

The Nursery occupies a quiet site behind the Physics Department on campus. It was opened in 1989, and was extended in 1994 to include a Baby Unit, opened on 14 October by the Chancellor.

Student Centre

York S.U. are still battling to get a `proper SU building', but for the time being they have offices and stuff in the converted squash courts next to Goodricke Bar. The news was reported in the January 1995 issue of University Magazine:

New Student Centre opens

The Students' Union and its key affiliates have been brought together for the first time in a new Student Centre next to Goodricke College.

Students' Union Officers, RAG, Community Action Project, the Overseas Students' Association and the Graduate Students' Association moved into the new building in December.

The building also provides space for non-sabatical officers and for several Students' Union societies.

The new Student Centre has been converted from a building containing two squash courts. Twenty-four windows were inserted into a previously windowless building, changing rooms were converted into toilets and a new fire escape and a lift for disabled access have been added.

The conversion cost around £240,000 with contributions towards that of £88,000 from the Students' Union and £12,000 from the Graduate Students' Association.

``We now have much better facilities,'' said Jon Bloch, Deputy President (Services). ``Previously we worked in very cramped conditions in our Goodricke Colleges offices.''

The Union President, the Deputy President (Services) and RAG and CAP staff work in an open plan area upstairs designed to make the Union more accessible to its members. The Welfare Information Officer and Deputy President (Welfare) have their own offices to preserve confidentiality, as do the Finance Officer and the Administrative Officer.

On the ground floor there is a general office and reception, where the new receptionist Caroline Snowdon greets visitors, the AU offices, a joint GSA/OSA office and a print room.

``The Students' Union and its affiliates would like all students to feel that they can use the building's facilities,'' said Jon Bloch, ``and we hope that they will aid the Students' Union in its efforts to improve services for students on campus.''

Careers Centre

The careers centre was built in 1985, at the same time as the Computer Science building. It has a large grey box on the roof, purpose unknown.

Drama Barn

The drama barn stands between Vanbrugh College and the Music Department. Part of this building dates back to the 19th century, and was part of Bleachfield Farm which used to stand on the site.

Related pages:

* History of the Colleges
* Heslington Hall
* The University Development Plan
* Chemistry watertower

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