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Thom Building lifts to be refurbished

Building Services mechanical engineers are preparing a major project to overhaul the lifts in the Thom Building. Work to refurbish both lifts completely is expected to start around July and be finished by the end of the year. Occupied by the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering Science, the Thom Building is a 10-storey tower so working lifts are a necessity. Unfortunately the present ones have become increasingly unreliable in recent years. The programme will restore them to full usability and bring them into compliance with modern regulations.


Planned Preventative Maintenance plans being rolled out

The Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) continues to progress towards its goal of having plans for planned preventative maintenance (PPM) in place for 100 buildings around the estate. This involves checking building systems on a regular schedule and replacing any deteriorating parts – for example, replacing pipework, valves or pumps that are nearing the end of their lives. Plans have been approved for around 60 buildings and the remainder are expected to be finalised over the summer. The plans are intended to formalise the preventative maintenance that already takes place and make the process around it more rigorous, ultimately reducing the need for emergency repairs by ensuring key parts are replaced before they fail, hence saving the University money. 

Safety improvements coming to the Sheldonian gallery

Staff at the Sheldonian Theatre are changing the layout of the seating in its upper gallery to improve visitor safety.

They will be adding cushions to every other row of seats in the hope of discouraging guests from using them as steps. The cushions will clearly differentiate seats from the walkway, improving safety by reducing the likelihood of falls as well as making the area more comfortable. It is planned that they will be installed in early August. This will reduce the upper gallery’s seating capacity from 325 seats to 195.

Headington maintenance contract to be re-tendered

The contract to carry out maintenance work on University sites in Headington will be re-tendered. It covers mechanical and electrical maintenance on Old Road Campus and at University buildings at the Churchill, John Radcliffe, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Warneford hospital sites as well as at the Bodleian Libraries’ Swindon Book Store. The contract has been held by Interserve for the last six years, but will now be subject to a competitive bidding process in order to gain better value for money. The new tender will build on the consultation that Estates Services carried out with building users in 2017 on their experience of the service they have received under the current maintenance contract. 

IARU conference coming to Oxford

The Environmental Sustainability team are organising and hosting this year’s annual meeting of the Campus Sustainability group of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU).

The conference will take place from 18-21 June; delegates from all 11 of IARU’s member universities will attend to discuss the challenges they face in making their respective institutions more sustainable.

Directly beforehand they will attend the International Sustainable Campus Network conference in Stockholm, where Deputy Head of Environmental Sustainability Tom Heel and former intern Rupert Stuart-Smith are due to present some of the research on the best ways to change people’s behaviour; this was the focus of Rupert’s internship with the team in 2017.

Estates induction

The next Estates Services induction event is scheduled for 20 September. These events are designed primarily to give new arrivals in the University an overview of the work the department does, and are suitable for anyone who uses our services – from departmental administrators to building managers and maintenance staff. Guests will be welcomed by Paul Goffin, Director of Estates, and Director of Operations, Isobel Hughes. The event is scheduled for 9.30am and lasts for around an hour. If you or a colleague would like to attend, please contact

Ashmolean revolving door to be replacedAshmolean Front Entrance

The Conservation & Buildings team will be replacing the revolving door that forms the main entrance to the Ashmolean Museum over the winter, with the aim of making it easier to use and cheaper to maintain. The existing door is enormous, standing around 4.5 metres high. This makes it extremely heavy, so visitors need power assistance to move it. But the door’s location above the museum’s café means there is much less space for an electric motor than is typical in these installations. Accordingly a bespoke motor was installed, which is unreliable and expensive to repair.

The team have received listed building consent to replace the entire revolving door and the two smaller doors next to it. The new revolving door will be smaller, around 2.5 metres high, and the reduced weight will mean no power assistance is needed. The team will also take the opportunity to change the push-button side doors so that the entrance door opens inward, increasing convenience for wheelchair users. The team have worked closely with museum staff to fit in with its exhibition schedule, deciding to do the work during the quietest period of the year. The project will start in mid-November and is expected to take eight weeks. The new doors should be open to the public by the week commencing 28 January, ahead of the start of a major exhibition in February.

Book your place at the next FM Forum

The latest FM Forum met on 18 May at St Luke’s Chapel on the ROQ, giving building and facilities managers across the University estate a chance to meet and network, sharing best practice and discussing common challenges and how to tackle them. Almost 80 people signed up – a new record for the event. They heard about topics ranging from the Salto access control system and the University’s revised planning procedure to new developments with the Science Transit Shuttle and exciting projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions across the estate. The next FM Forum is scheduled for Friday 2 November at the St Cross Building. If you are interested in attending, email

University Club bedrooms to re-open

The bedrooms at the University Club are re-opening after the Experimental Psychology staff who were using them as research space moved into the new Anna Watts building at the ROQ. 14 en-suite rooms including singles, twins and doubles are being fully refurbished. For more information see the University Club website.

Botanic Garden arch to be repairedBotanic Garden arch

Conservation & Buildings staff are embarking on a project to repair the Danby Gateway, the large stone arch leading into the Botanic Garden. Over the coming months they will be cleaning the stonework and in a few places replacing damaged stones, carrying out limited repairs to sections of lime plaster, and doing various other jobs that will improve the gateway’s appearance.

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