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O'Rourke is only contender for £35m waterfront campus


LAING O'Rourke has beaten off competition from five rivals to land a £35 million university deal in Ipswich.

The firm will build the first phase of the University Campus Suffolk in the Ipswich Education Quarter. Bids from Amec, Carillion, Kier, Costain and local f irm RG Car ter were all turned down.

Construction work on the phase one facility will start in February and be completed in September 2008. It will form the public face of the new campus development, known as the UCS Ipswich Hub, on the town's waterfront which has been earmarked for a wider £350 million redevelopment. More teaching blocks will be added to the north of the new building by 2014 to form the main campus.

Phase one includes teaching and social areas, engineering workshops, art studios, restaurants, salons and some student accommodation.

Future phases will include more teaching areas, a learning and resource centre, student residencies, shops and a number of social areas. The university will continue to share buildings with Suffolk College until the campus is ready.

The client for the project, University Campus Suffolk, is a partnership between the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex. Linked campuses will be created at Lowestoft College, Otley College, Suffolk College and West Suffolk College to form part of the Suffolk Learning Network.

These will be supported by smaller learning centres across the county that will offer teaching, study areas and IT support for students who have difficulty travelling to the main campuses.

The total cost of the new campus development is expected to be around £150 million.

The scheme is designed by architect Sheppard Robson. Nightingale Associates, part of consultant Tribal Group, is project manager.

Earlier this year the East of England Development Agency secured a £12.5 million grant from the Government.