The Manchester Engineering Campus Development Time-lapse

04 June 2018

MECD - The journey so far

Back in May 2015 the University of Manchester began the development of its new engineering campus. Now in June 2018 the site, which was previously home to the Grosvenor Halls of Residence, has transformed significantly into the building development for the new campus. Throughout the development the University has been recording the transformation through a live webcam which captures the progress made on the site. The University has collated this footage into a time-lapse video which shows the journey MECD has been on thus far. The video is available below and the webcam will continue to capture the fantastic achievement of building the University’s new campus all the way up to its completion in 2021. 

Get a birds-eye view of the MECD site as it develops

24 May 2018

Take an aerial tour of the MECD site thanks to drone footage provided by Balfour Beatty

Since construction work began on MECD the site has been under constant development. With the site continuously evolving, the site contractors Balfour Beatty, have been recording the transformation via drone footage. The footage below shows the site in October 2017 and March 2018. The aerial view provided by the drone gives a new perspective on the site, allowing you to see the progress that has been made in just five months. Balfour Beatty will be providing the footage on a regular basis so be sure to check back for new videos as the construction work develops!

Reach for the sky

18 May 2018

MECD cores full height

Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, has reached a key milestone on The University of Manchester’s Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) project with the first reinforced concrete core reaching full height.

The core, which is one of four, will be an integral component of the seven storey ‘MEC Hall’ building, housing lift shafts and stairwells. Core 4 stands at 22.4 metres high and 9.15 metres wide, constructed on a 1.8 metre deep reinforced concrete raft foundation.

A hydraulic jacking system is used to construct the cores, formed of plywood-faced metal formwork modules, floor-by-floor. Once in place, concrete is poured in and allowed to set before the system ‘jumps’ to the next level and the process is repeated until the core reaches full height. The remaining three cores will be completed over the coming months.

Upon completion, the MEC Hall will house an array of cutting-edge teaching and research facilities including lecture theatres, laboratories, an anechoic chamber (designed to completely absorb sound and electromagnetic waves), and an Electron Microscope suite.

Mark Pearson, Balfour Beatty MECD Project Director, said: “We are delighted to reach this project milestone which has seen the team safely construct the first core to full height. The core gives a true indication of the vast scale of the MEC Hall and how this will form a fundamental part of the MECD.

“We have extensive expertise in the higher education sector and look forward to continued collaboration with the University of Manchester to deliver the project, which will bring benefits for staff and students, in addition to the local community through work and development opportunities.”

Diana Hampson, Director of Estates at Facilities at The University of Manchester, said: “The Manchester Engineering Campus Development will be a world-leading centre for learning and research and is set to become one of the largest buildings in UK higher education.

“It is an exciting development for The University of Manchester and is great to see it start to take shape.”

The four-year MECD project, which is being delivered in collaboration with the University of Manchester’s Directorate of Estates and Facilities, is one of the largest capital development projects ever undertaken by a UK higher education institution. The scheme is being project managed by Buro Four.

Local community goes behind the scenes of MECD

3 April 2018

open doors week small

Balfour Beatty and The University of Manchester opened the doors of the MECD site as part of Open Doors Week 2018.

Members of the local community and students had the chance to experience a behind the scenes tour of the site, which forms part of the University of Manchester’s ten-year Campus Masterplan to create a world-class estate, consolidating four schools from the Faculty of Science and Engineering into the heart of the campus.

During Open Doors week, which took place between 19 - 24 March, the MECD site hosted three visits giving over 35 people the chance to see the site in action. The attendees were taken on a tour, seeing the extensive works involved to create the foundations of the four-year project which represents one of the largest capital investments ever undertaken by a higher education institution. 

With the project employing a workforce of 1,000 at peak construction, including multiple apprenticeships and graduate placements, visitors were given the opportunity to hear directly from the Balfour Beatty project team about their personal experiences of working in the construction industry.

Mark Pearson, Balfour Beatty MECD Project Director, said:

“It was brilliant to open the MECD site as part of the Open Doors event. It provided a unique opportunity to showcase the construction work taking place behind the hoardings. We are proud to have a diverse workforce operating across the site, from Apprentices to Returners who have returned to work following a career break; Open Doors provided the opportunity to show to the general public how varied and exciting a career in construction can be.”

Diana Hampson, Director of Estates at The University of Manchester, added:

“We were delighted to open our doors and give members of the public the chance to see this landmark development as it begins to take shape.”

Onward and Upward

20 March 2018

South basement core

MECD grows higher as the building cores rise above ground.

After many months working below ground developing the MECD basements, the MECD site is now heading skywards! The cores, on which construction began late 2017, are the beginning of the MECD site’s transition above ground.

The cores are the areas which contain lift shafts, stairwells, and building services risers. The four cores which form integral components of the ‘MEC Hall’ building have now risen above ground floor level, turning the concept of MECD into an ever growing physical reality.  The cores are formed by using plywood faced metal formwork modules that ‘jump’ upwards, level by level on a hydraulic jacking system. The concrete is pumped into place and left to set before the system is ‘jumped’ to the next level and the process repeated.

The cores are made of reinforced structural concrete which uses, in part, Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag (GBBS), a by-product of the iron and steel industry. This is a more sustainable form of concrete than 100% Ordinary Portland Cement and continues to strengthen over long periods of time resulting in improved durability and life expectancy. For the concrete stairwells, half-landings will be cast in situ while pre-cast concrete stairs will be brought to site and fixed in place before the concrete structure ‘lid’ is cast at the top of the core.

Core works generally continue in all weather, except in high winds when cranes are taken out of operation, in particularly icy conditions which can pose a health & safety risk and when temperatures are not high enough for the concrete to properly set.

The MEC Hall cores will rise up ahead of the concrete frame, to which the building’s facade is fixed, and which will co-join the gaps between the cores via a combination of concrete columns, slabs and structural steel members.

As one of the largest construction projects undertaken by a Higher Education institution in the UK, MECD will help continue Manchester’s proud heritage of science and engineering firsts. The development will host a wide range of laboratories and lecture spaces incorporating blended learning facilities, workshops and ‘maker spaces’ where students will have facilities to bring their engineering creations to life.

Balfour Beatty awarded Manchester Engineering Campus Development project

23 November 2017

MECD from Mancunion

Balfour Beatty has been formally awarded the £287 million contract by The University of Manchester to construct the Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD). 

The four-year project forms an essential part of the University of Manchester’s ten-year Campus Masterplan to create a world-class estate benefitting staff, students and visitors. This will support the University’s strategic goals of creating world-class research, providing an outstanding learning environment and student experience and social responsibility.

MECD will provide a state-of-the-art facility, housing the University’s Engineering schools, innovative teaching spaces and research institutes such as the Dalton Nuclear Institute and the BP- International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM). It will consolidate the majority of the University’s estate onto one main campus, creating a more compact and coherent infrastructure that reduces the institution’s carbon footprint and costs. MECD will also free up considerable land holdings in the north of the campus, contributing to the future economic success of the city with redevelopment opportunities in a prime city centre location.

Upon completion, the facility will benefit from ‘green’ construction techniques resulting in smart energy consumption and advanced water recycling and waste systems. The development will host a wide range of flexible hi-specification laboratories and lecture spaces to welcome up to 7,000 students and 1,300 staff. MECD will also incorporate blended learning facilities, workshops and a ‘maker space’ where students will see their engineering creations come to life.

At peak construction, the project will employ a workforce of 1,000, including multiple apprenticeships and graduate placements. The project will also create new job opportunities for unemployed local people through the University’s Construction Academy, which provides local residents with exposure to career opportunities in the construction sector. The project team will maximise the use of off-site manufacture and the latest in BIM technology to optimise construction efficiency and deliver a smart facility of the highest standard.

Dean Banks, Balfour Beatty Managing Director, UK Construction Services, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed to construct the MECD, one of the largest single developments ever undertaken by a higher education institution in the UK.

“We have extensive expertise in the higher education sector having delivered schemes such as the Holyrood postgraduate village at the University of Edinburgh, The Diamond building for the Engineering Faculty for the University of Sheffield, and the Foundry Courtyard Student Accommodation Complex in Glasgow. Our longstanding expertise enables us to provide The University of Manchester, its staff and students with an iconic campus, in addition to delivering multiple benefits to local communities including job generation and apprenticeship opportunities.”

Diana Hampson, Director of Estates at The University of Manchester, said: “The Manchester Engineering Campus Development will be a world-leading centre for learning and research. This development is central to the University’s ten-year Campus Masterplan which is creating an exceptional environment for our exceptional people. We are providing state-of-the-art facilities that will rival those of our international competitors and help attract world-class academic talent to the institution.”

Balfour Beatty was appointed to the University’s Construction Partnering Framework in May 2015 and has been working under a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA) since November 2015, enabling design development and early engagement with key supply chain partners.

Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) Site update

15 October 2015

From Monday 19 October 2015, the Materials Science Centre will be enclosed as the hoardings around the area will be extended to prepare for demolition of the site. This will include the closure of the pedestrian cut through between the Materials Science Centre Building and Grosvenor Hall site.

The access road to the Materials Science Centre will be closed from Monday 2nd November 2015, at which point the site will be completely closed off. Access will still be maintained to the James Chadwick Building and Oddfellows Hall, which will both remain live throughout the development.

Alternative routes between South and North Campus include:

  • Booth Street East and Upper Brook Street
  • Oxford Road and Grosvenor Street (two way for cyclists)
  • Oxford Road and Charles Street

For further updates about the Manchester Engineering Campus Development, visit our blog and follow us on Twitter (@uom_mecd).

The University of Manchester announces £350 million engineering campus

9 September 2015

The University of Manchester has announced that it is to invest £350 million to create a new engineering campus.

The Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) will be one of the largest, single construction projects ever undertaken by a higher education institution in the United Kingdom and will transform the way in which the University educates future engineers in response to the needs of the fast-changing global economy.

The build – due to open in 2020 – is part of the University’s campus master plan to create a world-leading teaching, learning and research campus to develop the engineers and innovators of tomorrow.  The new site will act as a gateway between the existing University of Manchester site and the city and will be located opposite the new National Graphene Institute on Booth Street East.

Mecanoo, the architects behind HOME – a new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film in Manchester – have been appointed to the project and tasked to build a campus which will open its doors to the public and reinforce Manchester’s status as a city of science. The new campus will be a destination where world-changing engineering and applied science is on display and visible to all.

The campus will help demonstrate how UK engineering is one of the most creative industries in the world – a key feature on the ground floor of the main hall will be a dedicated ‘maker space’ which will provide dynamic workshops for students and academics to share ideas and innovate. 

Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University, said: “This outstanding new campus development will build upon our proud heritage of innovation and discovery across engineering and science that began with the establishment of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in 1824.

“MECD will inspire engineers to continue our pioneering spirit and to apply their knowledge and help modern industry overcome global challenges, such as climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets.”

Once complete, the Manchester Engineering Campus Development will become home to the University’s four engineering schools and two research institutes from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.  It will include extensive, modern teaching spaces that reflect the changing demands of students and staff for mobile and flexible learning. Cutting-edge technologies will enable students across all disciplines to engage with new modes of teaching and become part of the global classroom.

The MECD project is being delivered through the Construction Partnering Framework. Balfour Beatty is one of the framework partners appointed in June and the University has begun an engagement process with Balfour Beatty as its construction partner on the scheme. Demolition of the former Grosvenor Halls of Residence has already begun and will conclude during the first half of 2016.

The University of Manchester is inviting local residents, businesses and stakeholders the opportunity to attend an exhibition of plans for the new engineering campus. The drop-in session will be held on Thursday, 10 September, at the James Chadwick Building, 4th floor, EBL Room 6 from 3-7pm.

For more information visit

Notes to editors

This project is part of a wider campus master plan, on which further information is available:

Further information about the project can be found online here:

Key statistics

  • Costs more than £350 million
  • The floor space will be more than 78,000m2 (or 11 football pitches)
  • 1,300 academics, researchers and support staff will move to the new campus
  • 6,750 students will be based at the new site

Images are available on request

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Aeron Haworth
Senior Media Relations Officer
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8387