A visit of ‘excellence’ to UK Construction West’s University of Reading site

05 July 2018

A visit of ‘excellence’ to UK Construction West’s University of Reading site

Collaborating with the Constructing Excellence Network and Women in Property, ISG, architects Stride Treglown and the University of Reading recently hosted a breakfast event to showcase progress on the enhanced library facility at the University's Whiteknights campus.

Now over halfway through the programme, the works will modernise and increase the size of the existing facility, improving seated capacity by 200, providing a more sustainable study environment, enhanced security and new toilet facilities, as well as relocating and expanding the library café. 

Before the tour, ISG project managers, Andrew Cooper and Richard Slade, provided a project overview detailing how the team has reduced a four-and-a-half-year programme down to three-and-a-half years, minimising disruption to staff and students still working on the live site. 

One of the improvements, a new book security system using radio-frequency identification (RFID), required the tagging of all items in the library – nearly 410,000 in total. 

The time-intensive tagging project was undertaken in December 2017, with an average of 14,000 items being tagged each day.

Pierre Wassenaar and Edward Davies from project architects, Stride Treglown, also gave a presentation which focused on the design of the project, delving into some key challenges and how these were overcome to satisfy all project stakeholders.

On the strong links ISG has forged with Women in Property, business development manager for UK Construction West, Natasha Cottell, summarised: "This was another great opportunity to promote women in property; vitally important for the future success of our industry, and supports the continuing development of the next generation of construction professionals."

As higher education providers face an increasing demand to make their physical estates work harder and more efficiently, the most forward-thinking are master planning for the future to remain relevant and attractive to a global student market.  

Sir David Bell, the University of Reading's vice chancellor, notes the significance of this project: "The library has always played a central role in our life and work, with its location at the very heart of the campus. 

“We have previously invested £4.4 million in the top four floors of the library as a first phase of redevelopment, and this major new investment of £40 million will complete the project."

On the development of the space, Sir David added: "We will combine traditional and crucial functions, such as book and journal collections, with group study facilities, great digital access and multi-purpose spaces. 

“Our library has never been a static space – it has continued to evolve over its 50-year history."