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The University of Southampton

Topping out ceremony marks milestone for new Mountbatten research complex two years after serious fire

Published: 8 November 2007

Just over two years after fire destroyed a world-class research facility at the University of Southampton, the new research building that is under construction to replace it has been ‘topped out’. The event celebrated the completion of the structural framework of the University’s new Mountbatten building for the School of Electronics and Computer Science and the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).

The ‘topping out’ ceremony was organised by the University of Southampton with managing contractors Bovis Lend Lease. The University’s Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, and a former Chair of Board for Her Majesty's Custom & Excise Dame Valerie Strachan DCB CB, placed the final trowel of concrete into a specially-prepared mould on the roof of the building.

The £55m Mountbatten complex is a 107,630 sq ft (10,000 sq m) world-class interdisciplinary clean room and office development to replace the original Mountbatten Building which was destroyed by fire in 2005. Designed by IDC CH2M Hill with architects Jestico + Whiles the scheme will provide flexible interdisciplinary space for research in nanotechnology and photonics. Bovis Lend Lease is scheduled to complete its £35m design & build contract in summer 2008, enabling the University to commence installation of new equipment for the start of the new academic year.

The Mountbatten complex is a four storey concrete framed building. An associated central utilities building and external single storey service buildings will accommodate bulk gas storage, HV transformers and switchgear and waste water treatment. The ground floor of the building comprises clean rooms for microelectronics research and optical fibre technology. The first floor comprises laboratories for optical fibre research and the second and third floors comprise cellular and open-plan offices.

Dame Valerie Strachan, Chair of the University’s Council, commented: "The topping out ceremony marks the beginning of the final stages of creating this innovative 21st century research complex, which will be a fitting home for the University's academics, research students, and support staff working in exciting fields such as nanotechnology and optoelectronics. Within these state-of-the art facilities, including clean rooms and laboratories, the University will continue to carry out some of the most advanced research in these areas."

Graeme Forbes, Head of Bovis Lend Lease Technology said: "We are delighted to have reached this major milestone at the Mountbatten Complex and to be on schedule and on budget for delivering this exciting new research facility for the University of Southampton. The project team, led by Project Managers White Young/Trench Farrow, has worked well to apply many modern techniques to integrate the design and construction into a seamless delivery process and we are pleased with the results and added certainty this is bringing to the project."

The University’s Cost Managers are Turner & Townsend and the design team is headed up by IDC.CH2MHill, with Architects Jestico + Whiles, Structural Engineers Gifford and Landscape Designers Plincke. The concrete frame contractor is Mitchellsons; the cladding contractor is Lakesmere and the Clean Room specialists are IDC Cleanrooms.

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