Portland Redevelopment

Portland Building is all about you. It’s a space about students, for students, where you can access all key SU and University services

Why we're doing it

Why are we redeveloping the Portland Building?

  • To impove your University experience
  • To redefine the building's purpose
  • To understand and respond to your needs and wants - from social spaces to services

What are we doing?

  • Developing a student experience hub that includes all major student services
  • Creating an accessible, varied, communal space where you can mix with other students, relax, socialise, study and join in with activities and societies
  • Making sure Portland reflects everything that's going on in the Univeristy and Union

Our aims

So just why are we doing all this work? Well, it’s all to do with you. You’ve given us three key areas to focus on, and they all underpin your experience:

  • Social – you want a place to spend time, meet friends, learn, and relax; somewhere that’s clearly separate from other campus buildings
  • Flexible – something planned but organic, with easy-to-change areas and rooms that meet your needs and requirements
  • Functional – a building with clear zones and areas, where you can find the relevant technological and personal support

We’re working closely with you to make sure your SU is about students, for students; somewhere you can access all key Union and University services, and make the most of your time at university.

Portland Redevelopment

The story so far...

Following years of discussion, in 2013 the Students’ Union Officers set a plan in motion to convince senior University staff that an excellent Union building would help you have a better time here – and that it would be a huge asset to the University.

As part of this, the then-Activities Officer and SU President took the Vice-Chancellor and other senior managers to see the Students’ Unions of Leeds and Sheffield. It seemed to do the trick, and following more discussion, the University Executive Board agreed to invest £15m in Portland to create a brilliant building for students.

Portland is a really busy building (sometimes more than 18,000 students come through its doors in a single day!), so there was no way of closing it to crack on with its development. Instead, the work was phased over four years, mainly taking place during summer.


So what was wrong with Portland, and who was consulted in making changes?

Portland is a big and pretty important building, so we needed to make sure we had some solid research to back up any decisions we made. So back in 2014, we asked a company called Crowd DNA to carry out an independent research project. They worked with hundreds of students to discover what they – and you – would like from the SU building. Not only did it include students who were already studying here, it also involved sixth form students too. That way, it included the needs of the next University generation. And the research was so good that it won an award.

What were the findings?

Well, it looked like you only used Portland to grab a coffee, use a meal card or pick up a meal deal. You tended to socialise in other places, and said that University Park campus needed somewhere you could call your own – somewhere to meet up with friends, relax and study. But that wasn’t all: the building’s layout was confusing too. Services were in random places, it was hard to navigate and it didn’t have enough spaces to meet socially.

So Portland’s redevelopment would meet your needs – whether that’s getting together with your society, going for a coffee with a friend, or finding a quiet spot to catch up on uni work. In short, it all had to be possible in Portland.

Project Timeline

  • CrowdDNA Student Research.
    Find out more
  • Crowd DNA Student Research wins national award.
    Find out more
  • The Studio opened. It's a space for student groups and activities.
    Find out more
  • Back-of-house staff office spaces were completed and opened.
  • Mooch Terrace and Peace garden (in front of URN) opened.
  • Theatre Gardens opened.
  • The front entrance to Portland Building was extended and the big screen was installed.
    Find out more
  • Work started on phase three.
  • Welcome Zone opened.
  • The Retail Zone opens on Level B.
  • Portland Hill steps completed.
  • Work begins on phase four.
  • Malone Atrium opened.
  • Student Services Centre moved to Portland Building.
  • Disability and Academic Support due to move into Cherry Tree Lodge.
  • Work starts on Dance Studio, SU Advice and meeting rooms.
  • Dance Studio due to open.
  • Work starts on the Get Involved, Retail and Multi-Faith Zones, as well as the Media Centre and Level E.
  • Work continues on the Retail Zone and Get Involved Zone on Levels B and C.
  • Some parts of Portland Building are still inaccessible while areas are finished off.
  • The Chaplaincy and Faith Support move into their new space, SU staff settle into the Get Involved Zone, the Media Zone is complete.
  • The Get Involved Zone and Media Zone on Level C are now fully open, as are Portland Printing Co. and SU Finance on Level B.
  • Work continues on the building's branding and signage.
  • Levels B (the Retail Zone) and C (the dance studio, Get Involved Zone and Media Zone) are completely finished. The careers events space, yoga space and quiet study room on levels D and E are also completed.

The Building

Explore what's happening on each floor





Latest updates

Check out all the latest news about the project

Portland Update May 2019

Portland is now ready to launch! And we've got a fantastic video to whet your appetite before the big launch.

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Portland Update April 2019

It's been a while but we have an update for you on the progress of the Portland Building.

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Portland Update March 2019

It’s been a while since we’ve been in touch about Union Refresh, but it’s been bubbling away in the background. So here’s what’s been happening...

Find out more

More news...

Want to get involved?

Want the chance to have your say and get a little bit more involved in Portland’s redevelopment? Send us your details and we’ll be in touch.