A new space for undergraduates
Despite weeks of snow, ice and unseasonably cold weather through December and early January, renovation of the East Wing of Somerset House has continued through the winter months, with the landmark building on schedule to welcome students and staff in the autumn of this year.
The new Reggie
Renovation of the East Wing requires £20 million from private donors. The acquisition underpins the World questions|King’s answers campaign by enabling King’s to better engage with the world. The East Wing will be opened up for public exhibitions and lectures as well as used as a venue for the College to actively engage policy makers and business people in developing international public policy.
Alumni and friends are stepping forward to support the project.
Alumnus Willie Kwan (Law, 1959), a resident of Hong Kong and prominent member of the Hong Kong alumni branch, has made a gift to renovate a lower ground floor space into a modern communal area. To be known as ‘Willie’s Common Room’, it will provide undergraduate law students with an informal place to meet.
As part of his gift to the College, Willie is providing the Strand Campus with its third Reggie (pictured above). This statue of King’s fearless mascot, smaller than the other two Reggies but sporting a ferocious expression, will guard the entrance of Willie’s Common Room.
When complete in 2011, the renovated East Wing will be a new front door for King’s to engage the world. Available to Schools across the College, it will provide conference space in a historic landmark in central London – a meeting place for elected officials, policymakers, researchers and academics.
The ground floor will feature a cultural centre – open to the public – with flexible exhibition space jointly curated by King’s, the Somerset House Trust and the Courtauld Institute of Art.
The first floor will feature conference space. King’s School of Law will move into the second and third floors.
As Somerset House is a Grade I building, renovation work requires consultation with organisations such as the Westminster City Council and English Heritage.
The following projects are currently underway:
- Creation of new lift shafts. The East Wing will have lifts at its centre and north end.
- Stabilisation of deteriorated lath and plaster ceilings throughout the building. This process has been approved by English Heritage as a way to preserve as much of the original building as possible.
- Renovation or replacement of original sash windows.
- Refurbishment of the exterior Portland stone.
Environmental sustainability is also an important element of this renovation project. King’s is making the East Wing more energy-efficient through several steps by installing new lighting and a modern ventilation system that uses natural draughts provided by the building’s historic stairwells.
Somerset House redevelopment in World questions|King's answers campaign