News & Insights

Topping out at University of Huddersfield's flagship Barbara Hepworth Building


Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure has celebrated the halfway stage in its work building the £30 million Barbara Hepworth Building for the University of Huddersfield.

Construction of the five-storey, 7,500 sq ft landmark scheme is progressing well, with the striking cantilever section now in place.

The university and the site team marked the occasion with a traditional topping out ceremony, attended by Morgan Sindall’s Construction Managing Director, Pat Boyle; Dr Sophie Bowness, granddaughter of Wakefield sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, after whom the building is named; Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan; and members of the project and customer team.

Dr Sophie Bowness – who is an art historian and a trustee of the world-famous Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield – was invited to turn a bolt on one of the 146 aluminium panels that will be fixed to the glazed walls of the new building.

Their function will be to reduce solar glare, but the design team has ensured that they are also an artistic adornment.

Professor Cryan praised the “dream team” from Morgan Sindall which had ensured that construction work was progressing so well. The Barbara Hepworth Building will be completed in the spring and be ready for use at the start of the 2019 academic year.

Pat Boyle said: “The building is shaping up to be another landmark development for Huddersfield and the ambitious design is befitting of both its name and the bright creative minds who’ll study within it.

“That construction work is progressing so well is testament to both the calibre of the project team, and the collaborative relationship we have with the university. We’re incredibly pleased to celebrate this milestone and look forward to the building opening next year.”

One of the great sculptors of the 20th century, Barbara Hepworth, who lived from 1903 to 1975, was born and educated in Wakefield. She was the first choice to be commemorated by the new University of Huddersfield building and at the topping out ceremony Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan thanked Dr Bowness for giving permission to use her grandmother’s name.

After Dr Bowness had carried out the ceremony, Professor Cryan said that the University’s policy of naming buildings after famous local people was designed to inspire students, and the legacy of Barbara Hepworth would be sure to do that.

Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure completed the university’s prized £28 million Oastler Building in 2017. It has since received a number of awards, including Best Education Building at the West Yorkshire Local Authority Building Control Awards.

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