Why new flagship development at Leeds University Business School found inspiration from Harvard

A new learning centre for Leeds University Business School and School of Law has been inspired by the style of teaching accommodation found at the Ivy League university Harvard.

By Greg Wright
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:58 am

DLA Architecture has handed over the Esther Simpson Building, which is the third phase of a multi-million-pound investment by the university to deliver collaborative learning spaces.

A spokesman said: "DLA, which has been retained on the University of Leeds Architectural Services Framework for more than 15 years, designed a state-of-the-art new building on Lyddon Terrace as a gateway site to the campus. Consideration has been given to respect both the character of the conservation area, listed terraces, and the retained mature trees, with a design quality to integrate the building with the landscape.

"DLA visited several European campus locations with the University to draw inspiration from world class facilities and incorporate design features of international repute. Accommodation includes specialist trading rooms, behaviour labs, collaborative teaching spaces and two large Harvard-style auditoriums, as well as generous breakout spaces and a new café at ground floor level."

Accommodation includes specialist trading rooms, behaviour labs, collaborative teaching spaces and two large Harvard-style auditoriums

Craig Reed, Director and head of learning services at DLA Architecture, said, “We are delighted to have led the design on this celebrated new building to deliver a teaching facility in keeping with Leeds’s growing reputation as an international business centre of excellence. This is the next important phase of a wider masterplan for the University of Leeds for which we also designed the Newlyn Building for the Business School as well as the significant upgrade of the Leeds Innovation Centre in the Clarendon Building.”

Steve Gilley, Director of Estates at The University of Leeds said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the Esther Simpson Building – it’s a fabulous design that contributes to the university’s wider ambition to create an environment that promotes learning, innovation, and enterprise.

“The building also creates a stunning new gateway for the campus. Our university community will now be able to easily navigate its way from Clarendon Road into the heart of campus in a matter of minutes. The route is fully accessible, with newly refurbished pedestrian paths and tactile paving, in addition to a new accessible ramp installed along the route towards Storm Jameson.”

The building is named after Esther Simpson; a Leeds graduate who spent her working life helping to resettle scholars who fled from totalitarian regimes across the world.

The spokesman added: "DLA is very familiar with the Leeds landscape having consulted on major developments including the award-winning office scheme at The Majestic in the city centre. It is currently designing the redevelopment of the former Leeds Technology Campus site, the new £270 million landmark mixed-use development on the former International Swimming Pool site at Lisbon Street and the refurbishment of 12 King Street to provide over 54,000 sq ft of new workplace."