Palatine Centre Opens Doors

Today Durham’s new Palatine Centre officially opened its doors after a four year, £50million development programme.

Today Durham’s new Palatine Centre officially opened its doors after a four year, £50million development programme. 

200 workers, 530 tons of structural steel, and 675,000 man-hours later and the mammoth task of building of the Palatine Centre is finally complete.

But the construction was not the only immense undertaking. A rather daunting 979 linear metres of filing had to be moved into the new building, amounting to 15 times the height of the tower of Durham Cathedral when stacked up!

Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize winning scientist and President of the Royal Society, unveiled the plaque this morning to welcome students, staff and visitors to the new building.

He commended the project, saying: “Durham’s commitment to developing this experience will benefit generations of students and the entire University community for years to come and I am greatly honoured to be officially opening the Palatine Centre.”

The Palatine Centre, on Stockton Road, is the final piece in a wider £100m investment in facilities across the University, alongside the extended Bill Bryson Library and the new Durham law School to create a hub at the heart of the University.

The centre aims to enhance the experience offered to students, housing frontline student services such as the University’s Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre, Academic and International Offices, Counselling and Disabilities Services and the IT and Finance help desks, which were previously spread around the City.

Designed by _space and PH Partnership, the centre was built sustainably using eco-friendly materials and green technologies such as solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic panels and rainwater harvesting. Over 90% of the project’s waste was recycled, recognised with an ‘excellent’ rating on the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Artwork also forms an important part of the Palatine Centre, which showcases some of the best of the University’s collection and displays two major commissions – mural painting Crystal Forms and sculpture Elvet Colliery, commemorating the importance of coal mining in Durham in the economic fortunes of the area.

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, added: “Our investment in the Palatine Centre, Bill Bryson Library, Durham Law School and the wider University estate underlines the commitment we have to providing students, staff and visitors with the very best facilities in what is a rapidly changing and highly competitive environment.

“The Palatine Centre serves all student groups across the full ‘student life cycle’ from recruitment, through to admissions, enrolment, study progression, examination, graduation, to employment and alumni status.

“The investment we are making will add to the experience we already provide, allowing them to further develop both key academic and non-academic skills which will prepare them for their future lives.”

Jenny James, Durham Students’ Union Education and Welfare Officer, said: “Student consultation was important during the planning and design of the Palatine Centre and initial feedback has been positive.

“The services it offers will complement the work the students’ union is doing to support the student experience through our own activities such as our advice services, societies and outreach.”

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provided £3m advance funding for the development.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “HEFCE is delighted to have contributed to the funding of Durham University’s Palatine Centre.

“We welcome this clear demonstration of the University’s commitment to investing in its students, and the opportunities the Centre presents for enhancing student support and experience.”