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O'Rourke takes university place

CONTRACTS - MANCHESTER

LAING O'Rourke is tipped to have taken the biggest slice of a £160 million scheme to merge two universities in Manchester.

The firm has landed the £45 million Student Centre and Nursing School (SCAN), the biggest prize in the scheme, beating off competition from Amec, HBG and Sir Robert McAlpine.

The new building will be at the university's main campus on Oxford Road, south of the city centre. It will comprise a 1,000seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms, catering and accommodation.Work is set to start this summer and be completed by December 2007.

The contract is part of Project Unity, the codename for the merger of Manchester University and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).

Client Manchester University has a budget of £160 million for the current batch of contracts, being contested by Amec, HBG, Interserve, Laing O'Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine.

Winners of contracts so far have been HBG with a £35 million astronomy, mathematics, physics and photon science building and Amec with a £20 million school of science building.

Further contracts to be let include the £10 million school of medicine, an £8 million car park and a £6 million school of chemistry. Firms are also preparing to bid for a £25 million biosciences research building, which has been scaled down from its original £35 million budget.