The University of Southampton

Mountbatten construction reaches milestone

Published: 6 November 2007

The topping-out of the Mountbatten Building took place under clear skies on Friday 2 November, marking the fact that the building has reached its highest point.

The £55M new building, a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary facility designed specifically to meet the long-term research needs of the School of Electronics and Computer Science and the Optoelectronics Research Centre, contains a large purpose-built clean room and associated laboratories, along with offices and meeting space.

The topping-out was carried out by Dame Valerie Strachan, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Southampton and Chair of Council, who was accompanied by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Bill Wakeham, David Amos of Bovis Lend Lease, Project Director of the new building's construction, and Graeme Forbes, Head of Bovis Lend Lease Technology. Also present were project managers White Young Green/Trench Farrow; and the design team headed up by IDC.CH2M Hill, with architects Jestico + Whiles and structural engineers Gifford.

Professor Wakeham reminded guests that it was exactly two years since he had addressed a joint meeting of staff and researchers in ECS and ORC the day after the fire which destroyed the previous building, when he pledged that the University would rebuild and that the new building would be better than what had existed before. David Amos said that the construction project had been a privilege to work on and he was excited about the next stage of the building's construction which would see some stunning results as some of the more visual aspects of the building's design were revealed.

Dame Valerie symbolically smoothed concrete into the final post on the building's roof and the building was toasted with champagne by the guests, who included representatives of the many contracting companies involved as well as members of the University, ECS and the ORC.

Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, last month signed off an order for £6.6 million worth of equipment for the building, which will facilitate more in-depth nanotechnology research. The most significant equipment is the Jeol JBX 9300 FS electron beam lithography system, which cost £3.3M. It is used to write very small patterns in resist, with an ultimate resolution below 10nm, making it a very important tool for top-down nanotechnology research.

‘Construction of the new building is continuing apace,’ said Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, 'but of course it’s the equipment inside it that will enable the research to be carried out under truly state-of-the-art conditions. This, coupled with our high-quality academics, students and support staff, will enable us to develop faster, smaller, lower-cost, lower power, more environmentally-friendly devices for the next generations of electronic products whilst continuing our pioneering work in computer science.’

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