Mackenzie Wheeler’s new building has three distinct elements. A six-storey tower housing the majority of the college’s teaching space, a single story workshop block and a learning resource centre. The tower houses student support services, plus four floors of workshops and classrooms. To the rear, the workshop block extends backwards making full use of the wedge-shaped site. On the roof of the workshops are a garden and the learning resource centre.
The northwest facing High Street façade of the tower is clad in untreated Western Red Cedar timber paneling and curtain wall glazing. At first floor level, orange picture frames are introduced into the facade design to act as a marker for the first floor student services zone. Floor to ceiling glazing at ground and first floor levels allows views of activities within the Skills Centre.
The design is expected to gain a BREEAM Excellent rating, with the use of innovative technologies including a ground source heat pump and on-site renewable power. The urban location makes full natural ventilation less than ideal. The building structure/envelope will be as thermally efficient as possible and its thermal mass will be utilized to minimise heat gains and store heat during occupied periods, reducing the mechanical heating and cooling requirement.