Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, officially opened a new teaching facility at Oaklands College’s St Albans Campus on Friday 26 November, marking the half-way point in its £62 million redevelopment.
The Evolution Centre provides 49 new classrooms, including a science laboratory and six dedicated ICT rooms, office space for teaching staff and a dedicated wing for the college’s Pathway 4 special needs students.
With Oaklands celebrating its centenary year, the new building represents the halfway point for the £62 million redevelopment of its St Albans Campus, which aims to provide the community and students with a more energy efficient, modern learning space, ready to take the college into the next 100 years.
Willmott Dixon, the construction specialists contracted to complete the redevelopment works, will begin phase three in Spring 2022. This will introduce a brand-new Construction Centre, which will expand on the college’s industry-standard workshops and spacious, modern craft bays designed to prepare students for industry. Phase Three will also create a new Sports Pavilion with hydrotherapy and physiotherapy areas, six new changing rooms and specialist facilities for the college’s sports and academy students.
The final stage, phase four, of the redevelopment will see the creation of a vibrant college square, in front of the new Gateway building, which will finish the masterplan and create a focal point for the campus, with a new Learning Resource Centre, Reception, campus café, library and specialist facilities for the college’s Supported Learning department.
Daisy Cooper MP said: “It was a big honour to unveil the state-of-the-art Evolution Centre. The students are clearly enjoying the chance to study in a light, bright modern environment.
“It’s also great that the new leadership team has big ambitions to make Oaklands one of the best colleges in the UK, and to do even more to engage with our local employers and our community.
“I look forward to working with the team to make their ambitions a reality and am excited to see what the next phases of the campus re-development and the benefits they will bring.”
Andrew Slade, Principal and CEO of Oaklands College: “This marks an important stage in our campus development. It is fitting that we deliver a state-of-the-art teaching facility for our students in the year where we mark our centenary and as we look to the future and our next 100 years. Oaklands has a rich heritage in providing 100 years of transformational education and this significant new teaching facility will play an important part in our building on that proud tradition.”
Chris Levett, Director at DLA Architecture said: “We are delighted to reach this next significant milestone in the phased redevelopment of Oaklands College due to completed in 2024. The Evolution Building is a critical part of the learning and teaching experience at St Albans Campus and as such our design approach sought to deliver an inviting building that acknowledges the college’s agricultural history whilst at the same time providing highly modern, flexible spaces.
The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) invested £5 million towards phases two and three.
Norman Jennings, Operations Director at Hertfordshire LEP, said: “This new centre is part of a much larger development to ensure that the college is fit for purpose. The modern teaching facilities will help Oaklands College meet local employers’ skills needs and prepare students for the workplace through the use of upgraded equipment. Strengthening the link between business and educators is a key part of our revised Skills and Employment Strategy and we are proud to have played our part in its development.