George Thomas Student Services Building (B37)
The George Thomas building is home to the Student Services department of the University of Southampton, as well as to some of the University's other administrative functions. Construction work on the £6 million building began in May 2004, and the building was ready for occupation some 14 months later. It is designed to accommodate around 400 people and is the main base for the delivery of advice and service to the University's student community, as well as providing offices for Professional Services. The new Student Services Centre opened for business in September 2005.
The new building sits alongside the original Bulding 37, opened in 1969, which houses many of the University's central offices. The atrium which was created between the two buildings was imaginatively used to create the student-facing "one-stop-shop" allowing students to deal with a range of non-academic services.
The design team was selected for its nationally acknowledged expertise in low energy design, the resulting highly sustainable building being welcomed by Southampton City Council. The design makes use of natural light and natural ventilation, and rainwater is collected from the roof for grey water recycling in WCs. Led by University researchers, Dr AbuBakr Bahaj and Dr Tomas Markvart, the scheme also achieved significant grant funding for integrated photovoltaics in the atrium roof, which generate a sizable part of the new building's electrical energy requirement as well as providing solar shading.
Named after a former speaker in the House of Commons and alumnus of the University, the George Thomas building was formally opened by another former speaker, Baroness Betty Boothroyd, in December 2006. The building, with its glass atrium, provides undergraduates and postgraduates with help on all aspects of student life including fees, ID cards and part-time work. It has been designed to be complementary to the existing B37 and the Jubilee Sports Centre to define the southern gateway to the campus, and maintains the theme of brick cladding characterised by the Hartley Library. George Thomas was recognised for his significant role in the House of Commons and became widely known when radio transmission of the days proceedings were introduced. He was appointed to the House of Lords and chose the title of Lord Tonypandy in recognition of his Welsh roots.