Willmott Dixon’s key role in making the University of Warwick’s estate one of the best in the country continues after it was appointed to deliver a fourth scheme, the new Warwick Arts Centre.

The last phase of a circa. £33m investment in Warwick Arts Centre will see Willmott Dixon create the region’s leading cultural centre when complete in early 2021 that will be a key venue in Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021. It follows the company’s selection in September to build the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB).

Designed by Ellis Williams Architects with Bond Bryan as delivery architect and project managed by Turner & Townsend, the Warwick Arts Centre involves a complete upgrade to the original building as well as adding a new-build that houses three HD digital auditoria, a large ground floor gallery to exhibit contemporary art, sculpture and photography, plus a spacious new-look foyer.

The arts centre continues Willmott Dixon’s presence on the university’s campus transformation that has seen the company deliver award-winning Oculus Building in 2016 and more recently the Sports and Wellness Hub earlier this year, before being appointed for the IBRB scheme in September.

One of the most complex elements of the arts centre involves the erection of its steel frame, which will see 2,700 pieces of frame put in place over a 12-14 week period to form the gallery and three cinemas.

When completed, the development will sustain over 30 full-time and potentially 20 part-time jobs, while also offering five apprenticeship roles. It will also assist up to 35 small businesses through engagement and commercial relationships with the centre. Willmott Dixon has committed to investing in local social projects including work experience placements and school engagement to the equivalent of £2.1m.

”By creating large and more modern space for the university to continue its creative, artistic and cultural programmes, this investment will also ensure the University of Warwick is home to the region’s leading cultural centre, something that is very important for Coventry as well as the university.
“One of the biggest challenges we will face is that the centre will remain open throughout the duration of the build, continuing to provide audiences with a full programme of events with shows taking place both inside the venue and in an onsite temporary theatre.”

James Breckon, director of estates at the University of Warwick, said:

“We are very pleased to be working with Willmott Dixon once again, as they continue to show their commitment to our ongoing partnership and campus transformation. Tens of thousands of people from across Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond value Warwick Arts Centre as a key part of their cultural and social life – we expect to see this increase dramatically during Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2021.”

The project is yet another example of Willmott Dixon’s track-record in the university sector with recently completed projects including creating the new Green Heart for University of Birmingham, a new medical school in Chelmsford for Anglia Ruskin University, Coventry University’s Centre for Advanced Low-Carbon Propulsion Systems and the Kennedy Building at the University of Kent.