The Maths & Stats move
Let’s count the number of ways that Maths and Stats have pioneered campus development at the University of Glasgow.
For pioneers they are, becoming the first School to move to the Western site. The relocation is required as the former Maths and Stats building on University Gardens is being demolished to make way for the construction of the Learning and Teaching Hub. Despite the very short timescale for the design and construction of the new building, the School has used the opportunity to create modern spaces which reflect its current teaching and research, with an emphasis on flexibility where possible, and allowing some of the initial steps in expansion of the School as its activities grow.
Over Easter, some 130 staff and research students moved their academic goods and chattels to their new temporary home – an £8.3m modular building with a lifetime which is sufficiently long to allow other forms of University use after its current occupants have moved to a permanent building.
And so, some vital statistics.
The site has accommodation of 3,200 sq m GIA (Gross Internal Area) over four levels.
In addition to staff office and meeting space, the new building provides:
- Study space and social interaction space for Honours and Masters students, with separate office and interaction space for RAs and PhD students;
- A flexible space for workshops and different forms of teaching;
- Two lecture theatres/seminar rooms with around 60 and 80 seats;
- A computer lab for around 60-70 students, equipped for group work.
Several present members of staff have strong loyalties to the old building, in some cases stemming from undergraduate days in the 1970s shortly after the building opened. The Head of School, Professor Adrian Bowman, is one of those – indeed he reports that he met his future wife there! He went on to comment:
“The manner in which the staff and postgraduate students in the School have responded to the project has been outstanding. Staff have worked very hard to contribute to the design and, within the constraints of a very short timescale, there have been real efforts to maximise the opportunity to create spaces which fit the needs of the mathematical sciences in the 21st century. As the new building is to be a temporary home, the thinking we have undertaken will bear further fruit as we plan ahead for our permanent home in the years to come.”
There has been a strong focus on supporting and promoting the world-class research and teaching which the School conducts. The breadth and depth of the School’s activities are represented in the quality of its research across pure mathematics, applied mathematics and statistics; the recent REF 2014 review of UK research rated 89% of the School’s work as world-leading or internationally excellent; Maths & Stats are ranked 8th out of 53 submissions in the mathematical sciences across the UK for research intensity.
The design specification for the new Maths & Stats building, developed by the School, reflected that:
- The mathematical sciences are people-oriented rather than equipment-oriented;
- Teamwork and staff interactions are fundamental to finding new avenues of research where different scientific areas meet;
- Co-location of staff is essential;
- Single occupancy staff offices are required to provide the thinking and study space which is key to achieving progress;
- High-quality interaction space is essential for small- and medium-sized group meetings and larger workshops;
- Teaching space needs to be varied, flexible and suitably equipped for the mathematical sciences;
- Social space is very important for promoting informal interactions and creating a culture of collaboration and exchange – often around the coffee machine!
At the heart of the University’s strategic plan is a commitment to delivering an excellent student experience. In recent years, the estate has struggled to accommodate teaching and student study. The new Maths and Stats facility will assist the School as it seeks to be innovative in its pedagogy and it will facilitate greater interaction between staff and students, while they will also benefit from access to the new Learning and Teaching Hub – again designed to deliver the best in learning and teaching – once it is open in 2019.
Professor Frank Coton, Vice-Principal (Academic and Educational Innovation), said: “Moving to a new building provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the School to transform its teaching and to create the right research environment for the future. The former Maths and Stats building placed a number of constraints on the School - good examples of which were the teaching spaces that were designed with traditional didactic teaching in mind. The new building should encourage greater interaction in teaching and should allow the staff to build on the many innovative things they are already doing in the classroom. Projects like this, together with the ongoing programme of teaching space refurbishment across the University, lay the foundation for our future University learning environment, at the heart of which will be the new Learning and Teaching Hub.”
First published: 2 May 2017