Left to right: Stewart Gregson, MACE; Andy Syddall, Western, BAM Construction Ltd; Sue Williams, University of Exeter; Professor Nick Talbot FRS, University of Exeter; Margaret Grapes, University of Exeter; Graham Kingdon, Western, BAM Construction Ltd

Topping-out milestone in £52.5 million research development

A topping-out ceremony has marked a major milestone in the construction of a new £52.5 million facility at The University of Exeter.

The Living Systems Institute will seek to find new approaches to understanding and diagnosing disease.  Due to open in Autumn 2016, the ground-breaking facility will tackle some of the most severe diseases facing humanity, from chronic neurodegenerative diseases to the animal and plant diseases that threaten food security.

On Friday, the University and partners including contractor BAM Construction held a traditional topping-out ceremony, to mark the construction of the highest aspect of the building at 40 metres.

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Exeter, said: “This is a momentous occasion that celebrates the hard work and input of a large number of partners in the University and beyond. The Living Systems Institute will bring together world-class researchers across a range of disciplines to work together to develop completely new ways of looking at biological problems. It will take a holistic view of how cells, tissues and whole organisms operate and, importantly, what happens to them when they succumb to diseases. This is an incredibly exciting new project which will provide a state-of-the-art building for more than 200 scientists. We believe the Living Systems Institute will lead to better diagnosis and treatment of disease in the future.”

The state-of-the-art, 7,500m2 building will span nine stories, and will see 250 builders on site at its peak. 10,000m3 of material has been excavated from the site, 5,700m2 of concrete poured, 100,000 bricks laid and tower cranes are positioned 140 metres above sea level. The innovative design is using the latest computer aided design and manufacturing processes to guide the building project. The final building will house laboratories, seminar space, office and flexible research and teaching space.

Graham Kingdon, Construction Director, BAM Construction said “We are delighted to be leading the design and construction of another world class research facility here at the University of Exeter. It’s a major investment for the University, for the city and for higher education in the UK, which will make a real difference to future generations."

 Margaret Grapes, Building Facilities and Equipment Manager, had the honour of tightening the ceremonial “golden bolt” as part of the event. She said: “It has been so rewarding to be involved in the laboratory planning for such an exciting project as the Living Systems Institute, which will bring together world class interdisciplinary collaborative research in the battle against diseases. I have truly enjoyed liaising with the Project team to minimise the impact to staff on campus. The LSI Building is a real collaboration and it’s going to be really impressive!”

Date: 6 July 2015

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