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Curtain raises on new look for Cambridge landmark

Morgan Sindall Construction has completed work on the world famous Cambridge Union Society headquarters following a comprehensive redevelopment of the iconic building in Cambridge city centre.

Opened in 1866, adapted and enlarged over the decades, the Union building has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Bill Gates in its famous debating chamber, to say nothing of fledging career performances from talents such as Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry in the Footlights venue in its basement.

The building was designed by prolific English architect Alfred Waterhouse, the man behind Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum. Morgan Sindall Construction combined heritage restoration techniques with modern offsite construction to deliver a major redevelopment, including the repair and reinstatement of key Victorian features.

Work to revamp the Union building began in December 2018 with extensive archaeological works and the resulting transformation has seen the Footlights venue refitted, the existing bar extended, and an unsympathetic section of facade, added in the 1930s, replaced with a replica of the Victorian original.

Jamie Shearman, Cambridge area director of Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “Everyone on the project team is justly proud of what’s been achieved here – an impressive blend of heritage, along with modern approaches to design and build.

“The city wanted the Cambridge Union Society building to resonate with its surroundings, and that’s what’s been delivered. During this project there’s been a huge focus on quality and the building will grace what’s already on offer in what is one of the world’s most beautiful small cities.”

Architect Bland Brown + Cole (BB+C) worked on the project alongside the structural engineers Mott MacDonald.

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