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University's 'landmark' Life Sciences building given go ahead

Artist's impression of the new building

A new state-of-the-art Life Sciences building at the University of Sussex can go ahead, councillors have decided.

The development, approved today (Wednesday 8 February 2017) by Brighton & Hove City Council, is expected to create around 600 new jobs across Brighton, Hove and the region.

Some of the country’s leading scientists, including Nobel Prize-winner and director of the Crick Institute Professor Sir Paul Nurse, backed the plans, which will transform the way scientists carry out research and provide students with a high-tech learning experience.

The world-renowned School of Life Sciences, which is one of the University’s largest academic units, boasts two previous Nobel Prize-winning scientists, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir John Cornforth. The School is known for its high-quality teaching and ground-breaking research into conditions such as cancer and neurodegeneration, as well as driving major advances in areas such as ecology and conservation, neuroscience, and drug discovery.

The new building, which has been designed by Hawkins Brown Architects, will remain true to the vision of the University’s founding architect, Sir Basil Spence, and will include the distinctive use of glass, concrete, brick and green spaces that the institution is known for. 

Set over five floors, the new development will be built to the highest environmental standards, with some green roofs to reflect its South Downs surroundings. The plans include four open courtyard spaces and an ‘internal street’, in nods to Spence’s original designs for the University.

The building will include collaborative spaces for staff and students to work in; encouraging molecular biologists, zoologists, neuroscientists, pharmacologists and chemists to carry out research alongside each other to develop new scientific insight.

Its modern laboratories will provide high-tech teaching spaces for students. 

In addition, the development will include a new Bio-Innovation Centre, which will be a hub for growing bio-medical businesses, strengthening the University’s partnerships with industry and creating more jobs in the region.   The Centre has received £5.5 million in funding from the Government’s Growth Fund, recently being announced as one of only two projects in Brighton and Hove to get this investment.

With a footprint of more than 17,000 square metres, the new building will be the University’s second-largest, behind only the Library.

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Sussex, said: “This is fantastic news for the University, for science, and for the city and the region, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

“By becoming a hub for bio-innovation, we will help to foster an emerging sector in the region, which will have a legacy for years to come.

“This new landmark building will enable us to teach the scientists of tomorrow, alongside producing ground-breaking research that changes people’s lives and makes local people proud.”

Professor Laurence Pearl, Head of the School of Life Sciences, said: “Our new state-of-the-art building will ensure that we can continue to produce innovative, world-leading research for decades.

“Our School produces amazing scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, and continues to attract the very best researchers from all over the world to Brighton. 

“The new building will enable our diverse teams of scientists to work more collaboratively alongside each other to make life-changing scientific discoveries.”

Professor Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “The School of Life Sciences is highly regarded and rated as one of the best in the UK against a range of different parameters – from research impact, student experience and the quality of its teaching.

“It counts Nobel Prize winners and many unsung heroes in specialised disciplines as past and present members of staff.

“Having such a prestigious and world-class academic institution on the doorstep of Brighton and Hove is a major boon for the city and the South East.”

Lady Margaret Kroto, widow of the late Sir Harry Kroto, said: “My husband received his Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research that was carried out when he was at Sussex, a testament to the institution’s tradition of academic scientific excellence.

“I am excited, therefore, to see the University’s campus being reimagined for the 21st century, so that it is best placed to continue its pioneering work.”

Former Brighton Resident and friend of one of the University’s first Vice-Chancellor Lord Asa Briggs, Reginald Phillips CBE, left his entire estate to the University of Sussex.

The Trustee of his estate said: “As a trustee of the Reginald M Phillips Charitable Foundation, which has supported the School of Life Science’s work for a number of years, I am aware of the critical research being carried out to help further human understanding of biological and biomedical sciences.”

The development of the Life Sciences building is part of the University’s overall Campus Masterplan, which was approved by Brighton & Hove City Council in 2015.

Notes for editors 

University of Sussex media contact: James Hakner – 01273 877966 | 

More pictures of the new building are available – to request these please contact 

The University of Sussex’s School of Life Sciences is one of the largest academic schools at the University of Sussex. With 96 per cent of its research rated as world leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognised (REF 2014), it is among the leading research hubs for the biological sciences in the UK. The School is home to a number of prestigious research centres including the Genome Damage and Stability Centre and the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre, where academics work with industry to translate scientific advances into real-world benefits for patients. In The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 - all of the School’s Life Sciences courses are ranked in the top 10. The Chemistry Department is also ranked number 1 in The Guardian. In September 2016 the School also launched its first ever Pharmacy Masters.

By: James Hakner
Last updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2017