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Physics department celebrates official Beecroft opening

Beecroft opening ceremony Sept 2018

The Physics department’s new Beecroft Building was completed this summer and officially declared open in a ceremony in September. Those present included Sir Tim Berners-Lee, pioneer of the world-wide web, Adrian Beecroft, the donor whose generosity made the building possible, and Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson.

The £50m building contains extensive teaching, discussion and collaborative working space for theoretical physics, as well as world-leading experimental facilities that will let Oxford’s physicists probe the fundamental structure of the universe in more detail than ever before and pursue long-standing goals like building a better quantum computer.

To do this they need complete isolation from vibrations and other interference from the surrounding world, and this is what the Beecroft’s deep basement laboratories offer. They can maintain a constant temperature to within a tenth of a degree and reduce the amount of vibration to the width of a few atoms – this enables scientists to run experiments so sensitive that they would otherwise suffer interference from vibrations caused by the M40 motorway, more than nine miles away.

The Beecroft can accommodate some 200 physicists; it contains 72 kilometres of electric wiring, 760 tonnes of steel and 155 kilometres of high-speed data cable.

Tinbergen building demolition preparations begin

The Tinbergen Building was fully vacated at the end of August, and asbestos, service infrastructure and furniture are now being stripped out ahead of its demolition. The  process is expected to take around 18 months. Erith is principal contractor for the demolition phase, while Savills has been appointed as planning consultants on the programme to replace the Tinbergen.

Neuroscience centre reaches its highest point622 topping out ceremony

Construction of the basic structure of the new neuroscience research facility at the John Radcliffe hospital was finished in September, with a topping-out ceremony held at the end of the month to mark the occasion.

The centre will focus on research into the prevention of strokes and dementia, holding purpose-built facilities for the Wolfson Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia (CPSD) as well as research space for the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN). Both are part of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences within the Medical Sciences Division.

Work on the project started in spring. It is funded partly by the Wolfson Foundation and Wellcome Trust. Practical completion should be in the second quarter of 2019. Its façade will be made of glass, terracotta, wood and bronze, with natural ventilation provided by vertical slats incorporated into the design of its windows.

Biochemistry Phase 2 consultation continues

The Capital Projects team have started work on site to construct new accommodation for the Biochemistry department. Extensive consultations have been undertaken with departments that will be affected by the project to understand their needs and concerns in order to minimise inconvenience.

Because the site is the last remaining empty plot in the heart of the Science Area, the project will be challenging and will inevitably cause disruption to those based nearby, but the Capital Projects team will do their best to keep this to a minimum. They have produced new signage warning people entering the area to beware of construction traffic and providing details of whom they should contact to discuss any issues. 

Status of major projects


  • Chemistry teaching labs (next to the Tinbergen building) – completed July 2018.
  • New research building for the Department of Zoology at the Wytham Field Station. The project completed August 2018.
  • Tinbergen Decant – Experimental Psychology & Zoology vacated the building in August 2018 in readiness for demolition.
  • Project 696 (Old Road Campus) – Completed August 2018; now known as the Innovation Building.
  • Refurbishment of Museum of Natural History toilets – completed in August.

Completion due during 2018

  • Dyson Perrins – work started in September 2017 to adapt existing space to accommodate new equipment for the Archaeology department. Phases 1-4 are complete; final works to create suitable environmental conditions for the new equipment starts in Michaelmas 2018. Project Manager: Adam Evershed, Ridge.Richard Doll Building
  • Rowing Tanks Expansion at Iffley Road – Project is onsite, addressing unexpected services with design changes. Due to complete Oct 2018. Project Manager: Nick Mullineux, TMD.
  • Richard Doll Building refurbishment to provide teaching space and improvements to the reception and atrium areas. Completion is due in Q1 2019. Project Manager: Charlie Biggers, TMD.
  • Tilbury Farm Access Road – the road has been completed and is now in use by the tenant farmer. Work on the junction continues. Project Manager: Owen Marsdon, TMD.
  • DPAG laboratory refurbishment for the Molnar group is on site at Le Gros Clark Building. Completion October 2018. Project Manager: Adam Evershed, Ridge.

At planning and design stages

  • Biochemistry Phase II, Science Area – contractor is appointed; developed design stage now completed. Estimated completion Q4 2020. Project manager: Jon Odell, CPC
  • Humanities on the ROQ – the pre-feasibility study for a new Humanities building is being reviewed following revisions to the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site masterplan. Project manager: Matt Eaton, PDCM.
  • Castle Mill graduate accommodation – building and landscaping improvement works have started and work is due to complete in March 2020. Project manager: Jon Odell, CPC. 
  • IDRM (Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine) design development. Expected to complete Q2 2021. Project Manager: Oliver Banister, Ridge.
  • Osney Power Station refurbishment for Saïd Business School – planning application in preparation.Capital Project - issue 12
  • Expected completion Q4 2021. Project Manager: Jolyon Price, Ridge.
  • Tinbergen design development – Asbestos removal and soft strip started August 2018. Outline business case undergoing independent review October 2018 and thereafter will be considered for approval by Strategic Capital Steering Group (SCSG), Finance Committee and Council. Project Managers: Tim Crow, ARUP and Richard Todd, Bidwells.
  • 1-4 Keble Road Refurbishment – Doctoral Training Centre relocation to enable creation of Energy Storage research facility in Rex Richards Building. Completion is due in Q3 2019; completion of the Rex Richards project is expected Q1 2020. Project Manager: Nick Mullineux, TMD.
  • Radcliffe Science Library refurbishment – Phasing, options for delivery of repairs and maintenance and project are being reviewed. Completion Q3 2021. Project Manager: Viv Barnard, CPC.
  • Southwell Building compressor housing – extension for engineering turbine testing facility. Completion is expected Q2 2019. Project Manager: Nick Mullineux, TMD.
  • Examination Schools Network Replacement – feasibility study is ongoing. Asbestos surveys are being carried out in Sept/Oct 2018. Project Manager: Tim Leigh, Ridge.
  • Cyclotron installation – procurement and installation of a cyclotron to complement the existing radiopharmacy research facility. Estimated completion is Q3 2020. Project Manager: Richard Todd, Bidwells.
  • Wytham Chalet refurbishment – contractors are on site with an expected completion date of March 2019. Project Manager: Catherine Atkinson, Turner & Townsend.
  • Conversion of data centre to offices – The project is on hold subject to prioritisation exercise in October. Project Manager: Charlie Biggers, TMD.
  • Project 622 – New neurosciences research facility – work continues with a topping-out ceremony in September. Expected completion is April 2019. Project Manager: Jon Odell, CPC.

Soft Landing Strategy published

The University’s Capital Projects Soft Landing Strategy has been approved and published, and is now available on the Estates Services website. The document sets out the University’s commitment that at the end of all future capital projects, it will ensure that new buildings’ occupants move in with all the information they need to operate the building efficiently. This is intended to avoid frustrating transition periods while they get up to speed with its systems. This can involve everything from physically helping clients move in to making sure the building has a postcode and working with its managers to ensure that mechanical, electrical and IT systems are tested and working exactly as they should. 

BDI shortlisted for Civic Trust AwardBDI Building

The Big Data Institute (BDI) on Old Road Campus is a contender in the Civic Trust Awards. The judges visited the building earlier in October to assess it and their verdict will be announced at a dinner in March. The BDI is up against many remarkable buildings across the UK and Europe, but its innovative design has already secured it a RIBA South award earlier this year - the judges described it as 'a delightful workplace' and 'a superb model for dry lab academic research buildings'.