King’s and Somerset House join forces07 Dec 2009, PR 267/09 King’s is to work together with the Somerset House Trust to provide a new cultural hub for Londoners as well as an extension to the College’s existing Strand Campus, delivering innovative research and teaching. This development represents a milestone in the long term plans to reinvigorate the estate.
King’s is to acquire the East Wing of Somerset House, one of London’s most beautiful and iconic buildings, which will provide a unique opportunity for London as an arts complex in a building which will bridge the worlds of higher education, policy and the arts.
The signing of the 78 year lease sees the conclusion to what has been described as one of the world’s longest-ever property negotiations. Since the College was built next to Somerset House in 1829 it has been in various discussions to expand into one of the wings of Somerset House itself. Now, some 180 years later, this will finally become a reality as the East Wing, which was previously occupied by the Inland Revenue, is developed.
New home for School of Law
The ground floor will be converted into space for cultural activities open to the public for the first time, and curated by Somerset House Trust. There will also be areas in the building for studies in arts and culture and continuing education, and a learning centre. The top two floors of the building will be converted into accommodation for the College’s School of Law, which has enjoyed a tradition of excellence for more than 175 years and is recognised globally as one of Europe’s premier law schools.
Gwyn Miles, Director of Somerset House Trust, said: ‘We are delighted that we are able to announce today this new partnership with King’s College, the next step in our ambition to see the whole of Somerset House opened up as a major centre for the creative industries and a cultural hub for London.’
The Principal of King’s College London, Professor Rick Trainor commented: ‘This is an historic moment for the College. I am delighted that we will be moving into one of London’s great buildings and developing a partnership with the Somerset House Trust which will greatly enhance the student experience and enrich the cultural life of the capital.’
Negotiations with Somerset House have been led by Vice-Principal Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman who adds: ‘The East Wing can become an stimulating centre of teaching and research, a place of debate and public engagement, a showcase for new developments in culture and art, and a vital contribution to the revival of the area as a lively precinct for culture and education.’
The East Wing will be restored to its original status as a landmark London public building, refurbished to the highest standards with its architectural harmony enhanced and public access improved. To raise money for the renovation and the various projects to be housed in the East Wing, the College will launch a £20 million fundraising campaign.
Development of the rest of the Somerset House estate continues, with new spaces in the South Wing for creative industries on the second and third floors as the engine of the new economy of Somerset House. The North Wing provides a home for the internationally renowned Courtauld Institute of Art and the Courtauld Gallery. The Edmond J Safra Fountain Court and the new Embankment Galleries provide the locations for a wide variety of contemporary cultural activities, which now attract up to two million visitors a year to the site.
Photo: Nick WoodNotes to editors King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education
2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org
School of Law
Law at King’s has enjoyed a tradition of excellence for more than 175 years and is recognised globally as one of Europe’s premier law schools.
For further information: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/law/
Somerset House is a spectacular neo-classical building in the heart of London (the work of architect Sir William Chambers, dating from 1776–96), sitting between the Strand and the River Thames. During summer months 55 fountains rise and fall dramatically in the courtyard, and in winter there is the famous ice rink. Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, contemporary art and design exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors. It has just played host to London Fashion week. Further information
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