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.