(l to r) Neil Turner (director, Howarth Litchfield), Mike Pitkethly (Bursar, RGS) Garry Hope (regional managing director, Robertson) with Year 7 students.

Work on new RGS library nears completion

As the scaffolding surrounding the new £7m library at the region’s top independent day school was removed, the striking design of the new state-of-the-art building was clear for all to see.

Built on the site of Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School’s (RGS) original swimming pool, the new building, which extends to 2,600 sqm of floor space, comprises an exciting modern library, seminar rooms, IT hub and care centre encompassing pastoral support for students - plus teaching spaces for the new Art Department and additional laboratories, effectively extending the Science and Technology Centre. The archives will also be housed here.

Award-winning architects, Howarth Litchfield, appointed by RGS to design the new building, submitted the original planning application and more detailed revised designs in 2016 and worked with headmaster, John Fern and bursar, Mike Pitkethly to oversee the procurement process. This resulted in Robertson North East England (Robertson) being appointed as the contractor following a competitive tender.

Since commencement of construction, Robertson and Howarth Litchfield have worked closely on the project ensuring that the design interpretation was met, and the build programme is on track for completion ahead of the start of the new academic year in September 2019.

This latest project at RGS marks a 15-year long relationship between the school and Howarth Litchfield. Since 2011, the architect has been heavily involved in the roll out of the school’s masterplan, previously handing over the new swimming pool with sports hall and associated facilities in 2016, to replace the original pool, which dated back to 1930, when it reached the end of its lifespan.

Howarth Litchfield director, Neil Turner, said: “We are delighted with the success of the project to date. The Robertson site team has worked diligently keeping to the build programme and now that the scaffolding is down, the building’s appearance, in a highly visible location at the junction of Eskdale Terrace and Lambton Road, is striking, and certainly reflects the brief from RGS for a creative design approach to the new library facilities.”

Robertson North East England has a well-established presence in Newcastle City and across the Northumberland, Cumbria and Teesside regions, delivering outstanding construction projects and community benefit initiatives, from small specialist works to major social infrastructure projects.

Speaking about its involvement in the scheme, Robertson regional managing director, Garry Hope, said:

“We are delighted to be involved on this latest project at such an iconic education establishment as RGS. The working relationship with the school from the start has enhanced the experience for all. In addition to ensuring that our presence on site caused minimum disruption, we were able to take several engineering students to the factory where the steel for the building was being manufactured. These students were able to chalk their names onto the steel prior to it being used in the build. We continue to work closely with all partners as we approach completion later in the summer.”

RGS headmaster, John Fern, added: “RGS has an enviable reputation not least for the high academic standards we set, but also for the quality of the learning environment our students benefit from. The addition of this beautiful building and the state-of-the-art library, art faculty, exhibition spaces and the additional teaching spaces it provides will further enhance the school’s estate.

“I’m sure that both teaching staff and pupils, as well as parents, will be delighted with the finished building when it officially opens in September.”

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