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Health and Life Sciences building now complete

UEB visit to Health & Life Sciences building

The creation of the University's new Health & Life Sciences building on Whiteknights campus is now complete.

The building will house the School of Biological Sciences. It offers upgraded teaching and research facilities, including a range of versatile teaching laboratories and a state-of-the-art BioResource Unit.

The new teaching laboratories will offer flexible spaces that will cater for the study of the whole range of biology from microbiology and biomedical sciences to whole organism biology and ecology. They have been kitted out with the latest audio-visual equipment, including networked microscopes, to support student learning.

The Health & Life Sciences building will also become the new home of the Cole Museum of Zoology, which is relocating from the AMS Tower into the new building's ground floor. The relocation of its main displays are anticipated to be completed by Christmas 2020.

It will also house the Trilobite café, which will open in spring 2021.

The School of Biological Sciences was previously housed within several buildings across Whiteknights campus, with teaching and research taking place in the Polly Vacher, Knight, Hopkins, Harborne and AMS buildings. The new building consolidates the School significantly in modern purpose-built laboratories, making it more productive, efficient and sustainable.

Professor Phil Dash, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, said:

"The Health & Life Sciences building is a wonderful new home for the School of Biological Sciences. The amazing research facilities will create exciting new opportunities in life sciences research while students will benefit from spacious and flexible new teaching laboratories, new study spaces and the Cole Museum of Zoology."

The construction project has taken three years to complete, with work first beginning in 2017. One of the first major milestones of the project was the demolition of the Engineering building, so that the new building could be constructed where it used to stand.

Janis Pich, Director of Estates, said:

"This is an extremely complex building and the construction would have been challenging at any time. To have continued the build throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and to have successfully completed the project is a real achievement. It has been a genuine team effort across University School and Functions as well as our contractors and consultants, reinforcing the University of Reading community ethos."

While no one could have predicted that the project's completion would coincide with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the new Health & Life Sciences building will be used for teaching and research in the autumn term as originally intended.

The School of Biological Sciences plans to use teaching labs both in the new building and the AMS Tower and the Hopkins building in the autumn term, with extra consideration going into the delivery of teaching under the restrictions brought on by COVID-19. The new purpose-built teaching laboratories will greatly improve the number of practical classes the School will be able to hold under social distancing guidelines, and the School is confident it can provide practical classes for all undergraduate students over the 2020/21 academic year.

The School will gradually decant into the new building, with a full transition expected to be completed by spring 2021.

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