Transformation for 16th century building

Monday 8 July 2002


One of St Andrews’ most prestigious buildings is to be transformed into a 21st Century postgraduate study centre, over 400 years after it was built.

The Roundel, a late 16th/early 17th Century house with Georgian additions, category A-listed and in urgent need of repair, is to be refurbished and converted into a self-contained study centre for the University’s world-renowned School of Divinity.

The ambitious project has been made possible by a generous bequest from the late Mrs Mary M Wright of St Andrews, significant support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Robertson Trust and contributions from members of the University’s Campaign Board, individuals, trusts and foundations.

The imposing building, which stands at 1 South Street, opposite The Pends, was previously used as living accommodation for University staff but has lain empty for over 15 years. It is hoped that the works will commence in October 2002 and be ready for occupation in March 2003.

Located in the historic buildings of St Mary’s College, the School of Divinity boasts a reputation for high quality in both teaching and research. In the recently completed UK-wide 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, the School achieved the highest grade, recognising that its research output is rated “of international excellence”.

The School’s research status has been enhanced over the years by a successful campaign to raise funds for scholarships to support high- quality research students from around the world. As a result, there has been a marked increase in postgraduate intake, currently totaling more than 50 students. It was this increased intake, coupled with inadequate study accommodation, which encouraged the University to regard the provision of new postgraduate facilities for the School of Divinity as a priority.

The new centre will deliver the postgraduate accommodation requirements of the School of Divinity while having the additional advantage of conserving an extremely important listed building for the University estate.

The renovation will involve major internal and external works requiring sensitive handling to respect its historic integrity. The new study facility will comprise private study and social space in a research environment, providing both a sense of community and privacy. Postgraduate study spaces for up to 50 students will be supplied with individual power points for computers and connection points to the computing network. Furthermore, the centre will benefit from ground floor disabled access and facilities and disabled lift access to the first floor, a common room, office and discussion space and toilets including disabled toilets on the ground and first floors. The exterior works required involve repairing the roof, external walls, doors and windows.

Professor Ron Piper, Dean of Divinity said, “The restoration of the Roundel as a postgraduate centre represents an exciting opportunity to cope with a problem posed by the success of the School of Divinity. For several years, the School has attracted increasing numbers of very well- qualified students from an international arena, seeking to take doctorates and postgraduate Masters degrees in St Andrews. Being able to provide first-class study facilities to complement the excellent staff has been a serious difficulty. The Roundel, located on a superb site only a short distance from St Mary’s College, will not only offer high-quality individual study spaces but will also truly be a “centre” creating a supportive environment for this growing community of young scholars. We hope that it can serve as a model for further initiatives to improve facilities for research students in the Arts and Humanities.”

Meanwhile, Dr Robin Evetts, Historic Scotland’s Inspector of Historic Buildings for Fife said, “The Roundel is one of St Andrews’ most prominent historic houses and its repair and refurbishment by the University is very much welcomed by Historic Scotland. Meticulous attention to detail by the project architect James Stephen of Glamis, a responsible client, and close consultation with Fife Planning Service and Historic Scotland, has resulted in a scheme that illustrates how a category A-listed building can be successfully converted to a new use, providing modern facilities and disabled access without loss to the considerable historic character of the building.”



Photograph of The Roundel – in jpeg form – available from Claire Grainger, contact details below.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: roundel/standrews/chg/9july2002

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