York St John University: De Grey Court Building

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Location: York

Client: York St John University

Project Year: 2004-2008

Cost: Over £2m

A competition winning scheme for York St John University. Planning permission was granted in November 2006 after extensive consultation with The City of York Council, English Heritage and local conservation groups. Close to the City Walls and York Minster at the junction of three historic routes, the brownfield site included an isolated pair of derelict Georgian terraced houses. The design responds to the local context in terms of scale, form and materials: local handmade bricks, dark grey panels, fair faced concrete, render and timber.

“In almost any city De Grey Court the latest addition to York St John University would be acknowledged as an impressive, complex and intelligent piece of architecture. In heritage obsessed York, where new buildings of any sort are rare and contemporary architecture of any quality are almost non-existent, the project is truly remarkable.” Peter Kelly editor Blueprint May 2009

Along the busy road, the boundary is defined by a high deep curved wall with deep facetted window reveals. The wall creates a strong, modulated boundary to the public areas and curves to create the entrance into a new courtyard. Achieving a BREEAM rating of Very Good, the project has won a number of awards including a RIBA Award, York Design Lord Mayor's Award and RIBA White Rose Awards for Design Excellence shortlist. It was also shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Award in 2009. It is featured in ‘Architecture: Sustainable Concrete’ by David Bennett, RIBA Publishing.

Photographs by Sarah Blee.

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Lecture theatre walls, photograph by Sarah Blee.

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External wall onto the main street, photograph by Sarah Blee.

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External walls onto pedestrian street, photograph by Sarah Blee.