Opened in September 2017, the £58million 12,500 sqm Urban Sciences Building (USB) is primarily a home to Newcastle University's School of Computing.
But there is more to it than meets the eye. The building and its surrounding city area is also a living laboratory underpinning research to make urban centres more sustainable for future generations.
On Wednesday evening (17 October) the project picked up the Collaborative Built Environment Award and Digital Project of the Year at the Digital Construction Awards, following Tuesday's Education Estates Innovation in Teaching and Learning award.
The Collaborative Built Environment Award celebrates the project team's approach to delivering this challenging project.
Ewan Graham, lead architect for the building and Associate Director at Hawkins\Brown said: "We put collaboration at the centre of everything in this project. From developing the brief to how the building is now used, and the construction in between, we knew we needed to combine our design rigour with all of the project partners' expertise. It's wonderful to see this approach being rewarded."
Hawkins\Brown worked with lead contractor Bowmer & Kirkland to use Building Information modelling (BIM) throughout the project. The approach has set a new standard for the use of BIM in the University's capital projects and is now endorsed by the Digital Project of the Year award.
An interesting twist to the BIM aspects of the project is that they were led by University civil engineering alumna Laura Brown from Bowmer & Kirkland.
As home to up to 1400 staff and students, it was essential that the building was sensitive to a wide range of students, academics, professional and partners.
Professor John Fitzgerald, Head of the School of Computing said: "The most impressive aspect of Hawkins\Brown's involvement was their willingness to engage with the subject matter of my school and the degree to which they sought to understand our needs. I've no doubt that this was key to the building winning the Education Estates innovation in teaching and learning award."
This week's prizes follow the Newcastle Lord Mayor’s Design Award for Sustainability and five awards at the Constructing Excellence North East awards earlier this year. The building was also one of 10 architectural landmarks picked out for this summer's Great Exhibition of the North.
The awards are playing an important role in the development of the Newcastle Helix site that the building is part of.
Tom Bramald, Marketing Manager for Newcastle Helix said: "As part of attracting corporate and SME partners to the site, we're highlighting a wide range of factors that make Helix different to any other office space or business park. World class architecture and fantastic public spaces are a key part of our 'ecosystem.' That the USB is showcasing the importance and effect of good design is a great help to attracting new partners to the site and the city."
Tours of the Newcastle Helix site run on the first Friday of each month and include the Urban Sciences Building. Places must be booked in advance online.