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Dramatic new building lets in the light of learning at LSE

Her Majesty The Queen opened a breathtaking new building at the London School of Economics and Political Science today which will provide superb teaching space for students by day and the city's most contemporary venue for public lectures in the evening.

The £71 million New Academic Building, with entrances on Kingsway and Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London has eight floors of teaching rooms, theatres, a debating chamber and offices. It is built around a soaring central atrium flooded with natural light. 

Photograph of Her Majesty The Queen visiting LSEThe building, designed by the architects Grimshaw and built by Osborne, will house the school's Departments of Management and Law, and its new Grantham Research Institute on climate change.

It includes four lecture theatres - the biggest seating up to 400 - which are used for LSE's packed programme of public talks and events, all of which feature world-leading thinkers.

At the building's centre is a specially-commissioned artwork by Joy Gerrard which uses a series of hanging globes to represent constellations of ideas and the way that major political or economic thoughts echo through public life.

LSE Director Howard Davies said: 'It's a wonderful space which at last gives us the academic environment to match our academic reputation. The building will help reinvigorate teaching and learning at an expanding LSE. I'm sure it will also be a popular destination for the thousands of visitors who come to our public talks and other events.'

The new building is helping the School to expand its student numbers to about 9,000. LSE alumni and other supporters have helped to pay for the project, with donations and gifts from more than 20 countries across the world - including four gifts of £1 million or more.

The building has also been designed to minimise its environmental impact. A borehole deep in the London soil provides ground water cooling for lecture theatres while solar heating helps provide warm water. The building also includes a natural ventilation system and a cycle park - helping it achieve an Excellent rating under the BREEAM assessment scheme.

A café and a student union shop are also on the building's ground floor, which has a public plaza overlooking Lincoln's Inn Fields.

The Edwardian building has been gutted, redesigned and refurbished over the course of two years. It had been formerly owned by the Government and housed the Public Trustees Office.

The internal structures were removed and replaced with new floors - all suspended from a steel truss on the eighth floor to allow a column-free central atrium, which has a timber floor that also swoops up one wall to the third storey and the atrium's glazed roof. 

Photograph of Her Majesty The Queen meeting LSE studentsOn the eighth floor sits a glass roof pavilion and balconies with dramatic views over central London.

An inaugural lecture series featuring world-famous academics including Niall Ferguson and Anne-Marie Slaughter is being held throughout the current academic term. The New Academic Building will also host LSE's first ever literary festival which takes place from 27 February to 1 March.

A second art work, by sculptor Richard Wilson, will be unveiled outside the building in the new year.


For more information or photographs contact: LSE Press Office 020 7955 7440
Grimshaw Press Office 0207 291 4103 or

Notes to Editors

1. The New Academic Building is at 24 Kingsway, WC2A 3LJ

2. It was designed by Grimshaw

Ingrid Bille - Partner in Charge
Project Architect - Andrew Milward-Bason (2005-mid 2007) / Nigel Hetherington (mid 2007-2008)
Team - Michaela Kroll, Oliver Pike, Hannah Sargent (NY), Peter Knoerr, Colin Ashton, Tom Van Hoffelen

The primary contractors were:

Structural Engineer Alan Baxter and Associates
Services Engineer Battle McCarthy
Quantity Surveyor Davis Langdon
Main Contractor Geoffrey Osborne
Urban Design Space Syntax
Acoustics Arup Acoustics
Fire Engineering Buro Happold

3. BREEAM (Building Research Establishments Environment Assessments Method) is a scheme that rates buildings' environmental sustainability and is run by the Building Research Establishment.

5 November 2008