Creating a world class physics building at the University of Oxford

Creating a world class physics building at the University of Oxford

18 May 2018

OXFORD – PBA has provided civil and structural engineering services to deliver a world class research centre in one of the largest physics departments in the world.

The Beecroft Building, which occupies a prominent site in the science area of Oxford, provides high-quality student space and world-class, bespoke laboratories. The building has been specifically designed to facilitate pioneering research and will also attract new students, researchers and support further funding.

The five storeys above ground provide office, teaching and collaboration space for theoretical physics, while the three basement levels are dedicated to research labs for experimental physics. The practice of experimental physics requires very stable, ‘black box’ laboratory spaces to carry out highly sensitive research in a very controlled environment. The strict humidity, temperature, and vibration control required presented a significant challenge to the design and delivery of the building.

Dean Ricks, PBA Equity Director and Project Director commented:

“The basement labs demanded a very high degree of vibration isolation, requiring structurally isolated reinforced concrete ‘keel’ slabs, electronically controlled with active air dampers to provide the highest possible level of isolation. The basement laboratories will provide some of the most vibration-controlled spaces in the world, ensuring the best experimental results.”

PBA was appointed to the project through a framework agreement with the Oxford University Estates Directorate (OUED) and has been involved in the project for almost six years.

Commenting on the success of the project, Keith Mitchell, PBA Chairman, said:

“It was important that all the teams involved worked closely to ensure the success of such a technically challenging and high profile project. PBA has worked with many of the UK’s leading universities, both in the UK and Europe. This experience, together with our approach to innovation and adoption of current technologies, meant we could deliver revolutionary vibration isolation for one of the world’s foremost universities.”