Leeds Beckett University Carnegie School of Sport
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On Your Marks, Get Set – Go
An AV Dream – Leeds Beckett University invests in Centre of Excellence for Sports
Leeds Beckett University is a modern professional university with ambition. Based in the vibrant city of Leeds, England’s biggest financial district outside of London, the University’s vision is to be acknowledged for its commitment to student success, innovation and enterprise, global reach, and strong local impact.
Committed to creating inspirational teaching and learning spaces, the University has invested £45 million in a new, state-of-the-art home for the Carnegie School of Sport (CSS). Located within the University’s Headingley campus , the CSS building co-locates highly specialised teaching and research laboratories. The new investment is intended to create a base for undergraduates, postgraduates and research and enterprise programmes, and will provide a hub for the elite athletes and industry partners who use the sports performance expertise.
Opening in September 2020, the building houses several outstanding features, including a 60m indoor athletics track, a nutrition teaching kitchen, high performance strength and conditioning facility, human movement research laboratory, two environmental chambers, and a Performance Analysis Lab. In addition, there are networking spaces for students, staff and visitors, a cafe, informal teaching spaces and learning support that will foster inter-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing.
A True Partnership Approach
Carnegie School of Sport is the UK’s biggest school of its type and new facilities were required to match the school’s achievements and ambitions. Architects Sheppard Robson worked to create a design for a contemporary building that sets itself out as a state-of-the-art facility whilst also referencing the heritage of the surrounding campus. Their design features concave aluminium cladding, a full height glazed atrium overlooking the outdoor running track and what is the building’s most striking feature – a 60m indoor athletics track at roof level with cantilevered spaces to both front and back.
Universal AV have been in a single source supply agreement with Leeds Beckett University since 2016. The partnership has seen Universal and the University work together to deliver some exceptional work, and this project was no different.
Joe McGahan, AV Development Specialist at Leeds Beckett commented; “Over 30 spaces needed to be equipped with Audio Visual Solutions. The single source supply agreement we already had in place with Universal AV allowed us to consult with Universal at the very early stages of the project. This made it so much easier and meant we were able to have very open and honest conversations about what was needed and what would work before we even looked at pricing. Engaging with Universal project managers and consultants at the beginning also provided consultancy when it was needed most and this continued throughout the process.”
He continued; “The Universal AV Technical Director worked on this from the very beginning. AV does not traditionally get enough exposure and involvement in a project so early on so it was helpful to be working with someone who knows the University and how we work, but can take a step back and see the project from an external perspective.
“He could see where there may be design issues, helped overcome them, provide alternative options and was instrumental in a lot of the final designs.”
“The five Lecture theatres provided some particular technical challenges. As a University we had a specific vision for these collaborative spaces. A number of the features we wanted to deploy were unique so we had no frame of reference to solve these problems. Having the Technical Director available to discuss these issues with and explore solutions was vital to the theatres’ success.”
An ever changing landscape
Timescales and deadlines are often challenging in new build construction. Changing deadlines within the construction phase of the building complicated delivery of the Audio Visual Solutions.
Joe commented: “We worked with Universal and contractors closely when schedules needed to be changed at short notice. Universal were really flexible with this and worked with us to provide solutions. Our single source agreement also meant that we could re-deploy man-power quickly to and from other University projects. Not having to tender individual projects and lose weeks of time meant we were able to mobilise this sort of activity quickly.”
What happens when a Pandemic hits?
As progress was being made and the building was in the process of handing over from the Developers we hit a Global Pandemic with all of the unprecedented and unpredictable factor that brought. How we worked through this situation with Leeds Beckett and the contractors was testament to how a good relationship should work.
Neil, Universal AV’s project manager for the works liaised between the University and the main contractor, Galliford Try. Procurement of works were split with some works being delivered to the contractor and some works being delivered directly to the University. This ensured all AV infrastructure could be delivered in an efficient, timely manner within the construction phase of the building whilst all equipment, commissioning and programming was supplied directly to the University, reducing cost and complications and ensuring after service and administering warranties is kept simple. As Universal’s Project Manager, Neil bridged the gaps between the contractor and University to ensure smooth delivery of all Audio Visual works.
With delayed building completion Universal AV were scheduled to be on site in February through into March with completion for Easter. Deadlines were tight and a 12 week installation window needed to be condensed into 8 weeks.
When Covid restriction began to be implemented in March, this complicated and delayed work further whilst the implications of working on site safely were fully understood and assessments and working practices could be put in place. Universal responded quickly in line with these changes and worked alongside the University to complete all installations efficiently and safely.
The finish line
Joe continued: “The building is a fantastic facility and is a testimony as to what can happen when everyone works together. We interacted directly with the architects to maintain their vision whilst delivering the facilities we need as a University. I’m proud of the Audio Visual facilities we have delivered and feel that they integrate and complement the world class building and sporting facilities.”
Leeds Beckett University Carnegie School of Sport
““Universal AV being sole supplier to the University really helped with this build. They ensured it was a complete collaborative effort, we could take advice, and it saved us time and money. Working together in those early stages and the flexibility they provided when the project took unexpected turns, supporting the University was immeasurable.””