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Duke Humfrey’s Library re-lighting project nears completion

Over the summer, Estates Services engineers and external contractors have been working to revamp the lighting in the Duke Humfrey’s Library. The project is expected to finish in early October and aims to make the library an even more beautiful space and a better place to work by replacing the previous lighting scheme with one that provides much more even illumination for the books and the library’s remarkable painting ceiling.

As well as making the space more usable, the new scheme will be more energy-efficient, relying entirely on LEDs rather than the previous mix of halogen and fluorescent lamps. Throughout, work has been confined to one part of the library at a time so that the rest of the library could continue to be used.

Space codes on Planon jobs

Anyone submitting maintenance requests to Planon via FacilityNet or FMOnline should be aware that it will soon become compulsory to include the relevant Estates space code – requests that do not include this information will not be acted on. Doing this will help maintenance operatives carry out the job more efficiently by giving them reliable information on exactly where the problem is; it will also enable Estates Services to fulfil its duty to protect their health by warning them of any asbestos nearby so that they can take appropriate steps to avoid disturbing it. To help colleagues provide this information, over the summer Estates Services has run a project to put QR code stickers on every door in the estate; to find out a room’s space code, just scan the sticker on its door with a smartphone or tablet. 

Alan Bullock Close refurbishment continues

The project to renovate the 46 graduate flats at Alan Bullock Close has now entered its third phase, of a planned five. Contractors have been working on small sections of the property at any one time so that tenants can be decanted between properties as they are finished. Each flat is being fully rewired and redecorated, with roofs and windows replaced, new and more secure front doors installed, CCTV added and external lighting improved. The work is expected to finish early in 2018. 

Boundary Brook House vacated

The Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has moved out of Boundary Brook House, a University property on the Old Road Campus, after relinquishing its lease earlier in the summer. For the moment, the building is being managed as void. It will be lightly refurbished, and its outbuildings – many of them in poor condition – will be demolished, with both initiatives being managed by the Estates Services Capital Projects team. Once this is done, part of the Research Services team will move there from its current offices at the Churchill Hospital, being joined by various teams from within the Medical Sciences Division.

Improving the University landscape

Parks gardeners have been carrying out landscaping work across Oxford. They have laid a new lawn at All Souls College to repair damage caused by chafer grubs. The team stripped off and re-laid more than 1,400m2 of turf – a particular challenge since they needed to finish in time to give the college a beautiful green lawn for Oxford Open Doors in early September. They are now carrying out a similar project at Lady Margaret Hall, in which 1,200m2 of turf will be re-seeded. Gardeners have also re-laid turf at St Anne’s College in what has become an annual tradition to reinstate the lawn after the marquees used for conferences have been taken down.

The team also felled a large, century-old purple beech tree at Jack Straw’s lane due to a fungal disease that was attacking its roots. This has involved working closely with other teams across Asset & Space Management, and careful consultation with neighbours. The tree will be replaced with a silver birch, as agreed with local residents.

Finally, Parks gardeners have also undertaken grounds maintenance work for Jesus College and Queen’s College, both within the colleges themselves and at their external sites.

University buys property on Jack Straw’s Lane

The University has acquired Cowley House at 32 Jack Straw’s Lane from St Hilda’s College. The ground floor of the building is home to a University nursery, which will continue to operate. Above it are 16 residential units, which will be used as graduate accommodation from this autumn. The deal reflects the University’s policy of preferring to own property rather than to lease it, and safeguards the future of the nursery, which is a valuable resource for employees.

The University has also sold residential property at Eynsham Road in Botley, at Coniston Avenue in Marston and at Fernhill Road in Cowley, after deciding that the buildings did not match its strategic needs. The funds will be re-invested in the residential property portfolio.

Meadow Bridge to be renovated

The DLO Joiners have finished making the wooden components of Meadow Bridge, which crosses the Cherwell between the University Parks and Mesopotamia. They will be replacing both the bridge’s handrails and its walkway; both parts will be built from Accoya wood, which has been treated to provide extreme resistance to decay.

The whole renovation project is being managed by the Estates Services Conservation & Buildings team. It should be finished late this year. To help keep DLO and Parks staff safe when working around water, they will receive river rescue training over the coming weeks. The DLO joiners are also making items for various other buildings around the estates, including replacement windows for a cottage at Tubney and internal partitions to divide up the top storey of the Clarendon Building.

Nuffield negotiations near completion

The University is in the final stage of negotiations with Nuffield College over the planned move of the Sociology Department to the old nightclub building on the corner of Park End Street and Tidmarsh Lane. It is also nearing the end of discussions ahead of the opening of The Foundry, Saïd Business School’s new entrepreneurship centre, in the former comedy club at 3-5 Hythe Bridge Street. The terms of the lease have been agreed, and the Saïd Business School has now moved in.

Lighting up the estate

Curiosity Carnival, on 29 September, was Oxford’s own take on European Researchers’ Night, with events aimed at getting people interested in research in more than 300 cities across the continent.

Visitors got the chance to do everything from selecting the best research-themed cake to squeezing into a lift for a cramped chat about claustrophobia from a researcher who specialises in the subject.

Night of Heritage Light 5 The same night, several of Oxford’s most beautiful buildings were lit up as part of the Night of Heritage Light (NOHL), organised by Rob Gregg, Principal Electrical Engineer in the Building Services team, in partnership with the Society of Light & Lighting (SLL) – a professional body that represents and promotes the lighting industry.

For one night, structures including the Radcliffe Camera, the Ashmolean, the Museum of the History of Science, the Radcliffe Humanities Building and the Radcliffe Observatory received spectacular new external lighting schemes, designed free of charge by SLL members. The Ashmolean had a starry night sky projected onto it, fitting with the Carnival’s ‘Time and Space’ theme, while the Radcliffe Observatory also took on an astronomical feel, with a roof-mounted spotlight beaming into the sky and twinkling window illumination. The Old Bodleian courtyard’s walls, meanwhile, were lit up according to designs produced by local schoolchildren who received training from SLL experts.Night of Heritage Light 3

Perhaps most spectacular of all was the Museum of Natural History, which had stunning moving images relating to scientific and historical themes projected onto it.

For most of the buildings, this was for one night only, but the Radcliffe Camera’s makeover will remain in until early 2018, demonstrating how modern lighting technology helps show off the building’s stunning architecture pending discussions about whether it should be permanently lit at night.

Wytham Woods was also involved, with visitors getting stuck into activities including sitting in a giant bird’s nest built by artist Clair Chinnery, watching badgers and touring bat roosts and even camping out under the stars. The night’s events there got started at 2 pm on Friday and carried on until the same time on Saturday – an impressive 24-hour span unmatched elsewhere in the University. The nest will stay in place throughout the year, forming part of the events to celebrate 75 years of science in the Woods. 

Ioannou Centre comes under permanent FM management

The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine studies moved under the management of the FM team in early October. FM has been supporting the building on a temporary basis since earlier in the year. The Ioannou Centre has been happy with the arrangement and has now committed to the managed FM service on a permanent basis.

Wellington Square refurbishment on track after consultation

Plans to refurbish the large graduate accommodation site at 25 Wellington Square are moving forward, with works planned to start next summer and continue for one academic year. They will include improving the building’s environmental performance, creating a more comfortable setting to live and work in, adding en-suite bathrooms to bedrooms and creating clusters of five to six rooms around each shared kitchen. 

Planning the Warneford’s long-term future 

The masterplan for the future development of the Warneford Hospital site, on which the Department of Psychiatry is based, has been published. It was the subject of a full public consultation earlier in the summer, and the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is now moving through the planning process with Oxford City Council. The University and NHS Foundation Trust developed the ambitious proposals together in order to maximise the site’s clinical and research potential over the next 10-50 years. They include proposals to build new healthcare and research facilities, preserve green areas and restore listed buildings, as well as creating new accommodation for key workers and beautiful public space for general use. To find out more about the masterplan, visit the NHS Trust website

Planon improvements drive safety benefits 

A move to an upgraded version of the Planon database is already enabling customer service improvements. DLO staff can now add much more information to jobs, helping ensure that important knowledge about their location and the best way to approach them is captured.

The new system will make it easier to hit the DLO’s target of having full planned preventative maintenance (PPM) schemes in place for 100 University buildings. At present PPM plans have been drawn up for around 60 buildings, with another 30 in preparation. These include both regular visits by DLO operatives to fix anything that has broken, and regular planned maintenance such as changing air filters. Planon can now generate jobs automatically for this kind of work, ensuring it is done on time. It can also improve risk management by empowering operatives on the ground to assess and respond to risk.

A new home for the DLO

Plans for a new headquarters for the Direct Labour Organisation (DLO), which carries out repairs and maintenance across the University estate, are moving forward. Consultancy TMD has produced a pre-feasibility study, after analysing the DLO’s needs and how they can be met within the space available. They came up with three possible alternatives, which have been presented to staff.

The DLO team’s single-storey current headquarters on South Parks Road is no longer fit for purpose, with equipment stored in sheds and other temporary structures and the main building starting to decay seriously. The proposed modular replacement will have three floors and include ample storage and office space with a better mess room that can also be used for training.

Move to single data source for space reporting

The Information Management team is reviewing the data it collects from around the University as part of various space-management information returns – in particular, the Estates Management Return, the Space Charging Return and the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return. The aim is to improve the quality of information collected while reducing its quantity. This should simplify returns and improve data quality, while also providing Estates Services with richer and more comprehensive information on space usage around the estate. 

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