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Bradford College

In 2008/9 Bradford College embarked upon an ambitious £140m comprehensive redevelopment strategy to replace its existing out-dated and inefficient facilities. However, following the withdrawal of the LSC grant funding programme in 2009, the College was forced to reconsider its position and devise
a reduced scale development programme, with the majority of funding for the project being realised by the College itself. Despite this position and the need to make significant reductions in cost, the College retained its core aims of embracing educational transformation in a truly flexible environment whilst realising efficient cost in use.
The resultant scheme completed in July 2014 clearly recognises each of these aspirations, in a magnificent new building situated in the heart of the town centre. Delivered on time and on budget the new David Hockney Building is a fine example of how an inspirational College team with a clear strategy coupled with an experienced design team can realise a new building that reflects the very best of delivering Further Education in the 21st Century.

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Project Objectives
  • An industry led and enriched curriculum
  • The development of existing and new relationships with employers
  • A learning environment based on real life working conditions
  • The creation of a “community of practice” for staff
  • A catalyst for the regeneration of the local economic community

Project facts

  • Area: 23,000m2
  • Project cost: £50m
  • Start on site: July 2012
  • Completion: July 2014 (on time)
  • Procurement methold: 2 stage D&B using OJC framework managed by Turner and Townsend

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Description and Information
Brief Description

The scheme was conceived as a single phase project comprising a 6 storey building, with demolition of the residual Westbrook and Kent buildings scheduled following completion of the new facility.
In response to the need for flexibility and with a greater emphasis on flexible open learning environments, the scheme was conceived as a single entity around a central Atrium. A bold, simple statement that allows daylight to penetrate the heart of the new building and enables the large open-plan floor plates to physically interlock. This central core contains open-learning and teaching spaces, student services and other support areas. In addition, the space acts as the primary circulation route off which are located seminar rooms, specialist rooms for Hair and Beauty, ICT and Science Labs.
In total, the new building is approximately 23,000m2 in area. At a gross outturn cost of £50m the project represents good value for money with neither the quality or general vision having been compromised. The project was almost entirely College funded, with a major financing package from Lloyds Bank. Construction commenced in June 2012, and was handed over to the College in July 2014 enabling full use to commence in September 2014.


At the time of this review, the College has been in occupation for just over 3 months. However, during this brief timeframe, the College is already recognising the following benefits:

  •  Reduced staffing costs (facilities team)
  • Improved team working
  • Improved student satisfaction
  • Inovation in learning, teaching and assessment
  • Improved IT provision (including 1,000 laptops)

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The Story of the Project

Bradford College is a large ‘mixed economy’ College which includes the provision of Higher Education courses (validated by Teesside University). It is also the only FE College in the UK to have a direct contract with the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) for teacher training qualifications.
The College traces its roots back to the Bradford Mechanics Institute and was founded in 1832. Since it’s humble beginnings the College has grown to meet the huge increase in population of Bradford and the burgeoning economy of the Region. It is now recognised as the pre-eminent provider of Further Education in the area.
In 1982, the College merged with Ilkley College and was subsequently renamed Bradford College in 1999.

Project Formation

Before 2004, the College had no coherent Estate Strategy, and determined to prepare one, it did so the following year. This Strategy proposed the complete replacement of the existing accommodation, set out in a number of phases.
The first of these was the Trinity Green Campus – an £20m facility for construction, engineering and sports. The second phase was for a 37,500m2 building at Great Horton Road at an estimated cost of £120m. However, in 2009 despite the College committing to a contribution of £50m, the Learning and Skills Council announced that Bradford was not one of the 13 schemes that had passed the first stage assessment to qualify for funding.
During the following year, the College considered the options available to them, and decided to advance a reduced scale scheme on the existing campus site funded almost in its entirety using College funds/reserves.

More recently, the College has also commenced construction of a third phase which has been entirely funded by the SFA. The SFA also funded additional works to the project to allow for a refurbishment of an existing building on the campus (Lister Building).
A significant decision that the College had to take early concerned the Business Case for the reduced (College-funded) scheme compared with that for the larger scheme.

The College were careful not to predict excessive growth in order to ensure that predictions were achieved. Similarly the College chose not to downgrade the quality of the work, and therefore decided to reduce the size of the project commensurate with the funding.
As the College were the principal funders, they were not required to satisfy a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ target, and did not as a result seek BREEAM accreditation. However, the College did choose to develop a scheme that would reduce energy use and as a consequence employed a number of principles associated with BREEAM accreditation where they could see direct benefit. The cost per square metre is therefore less than would have been required for a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ compliant scheme, despite adopting a high sustainability agenda. Bradford College is currently in the process of obtaining official BREEAM accreditation and expecting to receive  ‘Very Good’.

Aims and Management

The principal aims of the project were to transform learning and reduce cost-in-use.
This has been achieved by reducing space (and thereby realising efficiencies in space utilisation), improving energy efficiency and providing flexible-use spaces to accommodate changing modes of learning. Many of the students at the College are involved in work- based learning.
In 2005, the College had developed an Estate Strategy which saw the phase 1 completion of the Trinity Green Campus Project in 2008.
Following the abandonment of the larger LSC funded scheme in 2009, the College spent a year reviewing its position. Out of this came a revised Property Strategy promoting the David Hockney building as the key component.
The briefing and design of the scheme continued throughout the following year and included a two-stage competitive tendering process that took full advantage of the highly competitive tendering market at the time.
The second stage of the Tender was also procured competitively, ensuring best value and the option to move between Contractors should the need arise during negotiations. Whilst this mode of procurement served the College well, it is recognised that, given the changed market conditions, it is unlikely such a procurement route could have been adopted since as Contractors would be unwilling to commit the required investment in time or money.
BAM Construction were awarded the Contract to build the new College under an NEC Option C Contract. This took 24 months and was constructed on time and within budget.
The consultant team was selected using the OJC Framework and comprised the following Parties:

  • Project Manager: Turner and Townsend
  • Architect: Bond Bryan Architects
  • Services Consultants: Couch Perry Wilkes / Silcock Leedham
  • CDM-C: Turner and Townsend
  • Structures: SKM – (Jacobs)
  • Acoustics: SRL


Having established a Governor’s sub- committee to oversee the original LSC funded scheme, the College was well placed to manage the independently-funded project. This Committee included a broad cross-section of skills with expertise on teaching and learning, finance and governance/legal issues.
Since the outset of the project, the College has held 2-weekly project executive team meetings. These have focused on strategic and day-to-day issues throughout the project providing both direction and prompt resolution of issues as they arose.
Since completion of the David Hockney Building, the team continue to meet on a fortnightly basis overseeing and steering the latest phase of the College’s Capital programme. The chair of this Committee and Project Sponsor for the new Campus building was the Chief Operating Officer.

The College held monthly Project Management meetings with the Project & Cost Managers and monthly site meetings with the whole team.


Design, Briefing and Pre-Construction

The College undertook research for the project in a variety of ways including:
Building visits: The Saltire Centre, Glasgow; Mathew Boulton College, Birmingham, as well as projects in Edinburgh and London. Use of their Teacher Education/Research departments to advise on current teaching and learning trends.

Briefing Process

The education briefing was jointly led by the Director of Learning Development and Research and the Vice Principal (16-18). Both were present at all briefing sessions to ensure that the College’s transformational agenda was embraced and embedded in the evolving design.
Areas were derived not by adoption of the SFA space model but by assessing utilisation during individual weeks and relative to the year as a whole. The move towards work-based and online learning content was taken into account, as was the potential introduction of 2-year degree courses. ‘Fast- track’ learning methods (whereby courses are intensively taught over a reduced time period) were also planned for.
Design Evolution:

The scheme adopted the principles of the original LSC funded project as its basis of design. This was refined to maximise space utilisation based on the College’s own in-house assessment and developed as a team to reflect the revised (reduced) budgetary constraints.

Consents and Approvals

The Planning Authority were very supportive of the new College building recognising the substantial regeneration and economic benefits to the City in developing the new Facility. Quality of external materials was an intrinsic requirement of the Planning Authority. The College chose to clad the new building in natural stone which was well received by the Planners. This has helped realise a building that not only respects its immediate built environment but reflects a level of quality commensurate with the aspirations of the College.

Risk Management

The Project Manager led a formal risk process with workshops throughout the duration of the project. These were contributed to by all key stakeholders and design-team members and were seen as instrumental in helping to deliver the project on time and within budget.

As a key partner in financing the scheme Lloyds Bank were keen to engage in the ongoing performance of the project in close liaison with College senior staff.

Cost Control and Benchmarking

As per the Risk management, this was undertaken by Turner and Townsend. Monthly reviews and reports helped ensure all Parties were aware of costs throughout the project thus enabling informed decisions to be made quickly where necessary and ensuring no delay to the works at any point.

Construction on Site

The College established a good working relationship with the Contractor from the outset. A situation helped by the close proximity of the new and the existing buildings, (which the College were still operating from).
The construction team were involved in a number of College activities throughout the build process including guest lectures, apprenticeships, and the provision of project information to support particular teaching activities as part of the Curriculum.
The building was handed to the College in July 2014 enabling migration over the summer period and a ‘soft’ start prior to students arriving back in September. All furniture is new, which undoubtedly aided migration from old building to the new.


Lessons Learnt
Teaching and Learning

Although it is early days, the original objectives and aspirations of the College are being realised.

The College used the opportunity of the project to enhance teaching and learning by using the project as a device for moving to more flexible delivery including increased use of online, blended and flipped learning.

As part of the build process, the College appointed a ‘Change Manager’ who was responsible for Training and Development (including IT). This process started before construction commenced and continues into the completed building. This appointment proved to be invaluable in ensuring these key objectives were embedded into the design and embraced by students and staff alike.

The design is already proving to be flexible in adapting to change and has accommodated changes made to the curriculum during the between design and project completion. Space utilisation is being monitored using electronic registers.

The building is responding to the increase in online learning in the open spaces, with tutors available to assist.  A 100 seat flexible lecture theatre opens up into the main foyer area catering for large events and providing a further degree of flexibility.

Design Architecture and Quality

From the outset, the College were keen that the original aspirations in terms of both quality and transformation embedded in the original larger scheme were in no way diluted or diminished in the design of the David Hockney Building.
The finished article clearly respects and adopts these principles throughout, meeting the high standards set out in the original brief. Although having only been in occupation a few months, the opportunities provided by the building and the flexibility in teaching and learning methods available will undoubtedly enable the College to be at the forefront in the delivery of Further Education in future years.
Above all, the new building is one that both the College and the people of Bradford can be proud of. It is a testament to the clarity of vision held by the College Senior Management and the benefits and values of ‘partnership’ in delivering a bold, cohesive and single-minded statement.
Would you do anything differently?
The Hair and Beauty facilities were procured as a separate direct fit-out component of the project which proved to be the most troublesome aspect of the works. In retrospect, this aspect of the project might have been better procured via the main contractor.
The ventilation system was redesigned post tender to enhance the internal environment. This resulted in additional costs which had to be absorbed by targeting other savings to keep the Project in budget.


Overall, the College consider the project has been an excellent, rewarding experience, bringing together students, staff and the Governing Body. The project provided an opportunity to review and set out the transformational agenda for teaching and learning and create a bespoke building that responded to the challenges this posed.
The single aspect above all others the College are most proud of is ‘the way students are meeting the high standards expected of them by the building’.

Advice to other Colleges?

Leave nothing to chance – ensure there is sufficient time from senior staff to engage with the project.
Be a good client – part of the bigger team.
Ensure your education and other objectives are understood by the whole team.
Be prepared for and expect value engineering.

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